The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales has welcomed a 5% pay uplift for general practice nurses (GPNs), though warned of a ‘bleak and worsening’ nursing workforce crisis across the country.
Helen Whyley, director of RCN Wales, told Nursing in Practice she hoped the pay rise ‘goes some way’ in supporting the workforce amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
She said she was pleased to see the uplift awarded, which ‘although disappointingly late, is in parity with the NHS’.
The 5% pay uplift for GPNs comes as part of a £20m investment into the 2023-24 General Medical Services (GMS) contract, with negotiations between the Welsh Government, NHS Wales and the British Medical Association’s GP Committee (BMA GPC) for Wales now concluded.
According to the BMA, the pay rise will be backdated to April 2023 and the funding is expected to be released to practices in the ‘next available pay run’.
The news of the GPN pay increase follows concerns raised by Dr Gareth Oelmann, chair of the BMA’s Welsh GPC, that practice nurses and their colleagues had been wrongly ‘kept waiting for a fair pay uplift’ following a breakdown in negotiations.
Meanwhile, GPNs in Wales recently told Nursing in Practice they were feeling disappointed and ‘disgruntled’ about the ongoing lack of a pay rise for 2023-24.
Separately, a 5% consolidated pay award was given to NHS nurses on Agenda for Change last summer, following a dispute between unions and the government which saw thousands of nurses walk out on strike.
Ms Whyley from the RCN said: ‘I am pleased to hear that our general practice members have now been awarded a pay uplift, which, although disappointingly late, is in parity with the NHS.
‘GPNs provide pivotal and essential care within GP surgeries, and they deserve recognition for the care and services they provide.’
She added: ‘GPNs can now expect to see this uplift in their pay, which goes some way in supporting them in the continuing cost of living crisis.’
However, Ms Whyley warned that ‘a bleak and worsening staffing crisis persists in the nursing workforce, with staff struggling to make ends meet under unsustainable pressure’.
‘Increased investment, through fair pay and improved working conditions, remain essential to retaining and replenishing safe staffing levels to deliver the best care that the Welsh public deserve.’
In September, RCN Wales warned the government of its concerns over an ageing GPN workforce.