New primary care minister Dame Andrea Leadsom must ensure general practice nurses (GPNs) are given the full pay rise promised by the government as an ‘immediate priority’, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Heather Randle, RCN lead for primary care, said she will be formally writing to Dame Andrea for an ‘urgent’ update on the situation, insisting that it was ‘unacceptable that the government promised a 6% pay increase but then did not make the funding available to pay for it’.
Ms Randle added that she ‘should be aware that we will continue to advocate for this pay rise’.
The RCN has warned that not all GPNs would receive the full 6% pay increase, because of the complex formula used to distribute the funds for general practice.
In October, it was confirmed that the global sum had been increased to help fund the rise and would be distributed to practices by November.
However, because the global sum allocates funding per patient, based on various factors including demographics, it became apparent that some practices would not receive enough additional funding to cover an entire 6% rise for salaried staff, while others might get more than necessary.
Ms Randle said that GPNs should have received the rise in October and the backdated pay to April in November. However, she also suggested that some practices had not yet decided what to do with the money, while others were unlikely to be able to afford it.
The RCN has launched a survey for GPNs not receiving the full 6% uplift to help build its case.
The questionnaire, running until mid-January, asks GPNs about any uplift they have received, whether they know why they did not receive the full 6% and whether their employer was fully transparent about it.
The survey has already received more than 900 responses, and the RCN said it will share the feedback with local medical committees and the British Medical Association to build awareness of the current ‘inequality and lack of funding’ for nursing pay.
‘Nursing staff in general practice should have pay, terms and conditions comparable to NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts,’ Ms Randle said. ‘Right now, there is a stark disparity – for example many nursing staff in general practice get little to no provision for sickness absence or maternity leave.
‘Without this, and with the introduction of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), nursing staff working in general practice will continue to feel undervalued and invisible,’ she added.
Dame Andrea, MP for South Northamptonshire, was moved to the Department of Health and Social Care in prime minister Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle on 13 November. She was confirmed as minister for public health, Start for Life and primary care later in the month.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are hugely grateful to GP nursing staff and their teams for the work they do.
‘Working closely with the British Medical Association, we accepted the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration’s recommendation in full to give salaried general practice staff a 6% pay rise backdated to April.
‘The GP contract has now been uplifted and we expect practices to pass this uplift onto salaried staff, including nurses.’