Some nurses working in general practice have reportedly been given a pay rise of just 1% this year, the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) annual congress has heard.
Concerns were also raised about discrepancies in maternity and sick pay faced by general practice nurses, compared to other colleagues in their teams.
The comments came as part of a successful debate which called on the RCN’s governing council to ‘lobby the UK governments for minimum standards for employment terms and conditions for all nursing workforce in any organisation funded by the public purse’. The motion was overwhelmingly passed.
The debate heard from Sarah Hall, a general practice nurse of more than 20 years who is part of the RCN General Practice Nurse Forum, who said she had been made aware of some concerning experiences from those working in the sector.
She described how one nurse, who had worked in general practice for 12 years, was only given statutory sick pay and had to ‘re-mortgage her home to pay for her time off’ when she was diagnosed with cancer and needed treatment and surgery.
Within the last week, Ms Hall said she had also been contacted by a general practice nurse lead who required guidance on their discovery that ‘the advanced nurse practitioners in their team were being paid sick pay but the general practice nurses did not have any’.
In addition, she had also heard this week of a general practice nurse who had been given a pay rise of just 1%.
‘Sadly, these examples are not exceptional,’ she said during the debate.
Separately, Ellen Nicholson from the RCN General Practice Nurse Forum also said she had been told recently ‘of nurses in general practice who have been offered [a] 1% pay rise this year’.
‘Just consider that – 1% in the cost-of-living crisis,’ said Ms Nicholson.
In addition, she said there were examples ‘where the medic has received full maternity pay and the nurses just received statutory sick pay’ within general practice. ‘How can that be fair?’ she asked the conference.
Ms Nicholson drew attention to the ongoing focus of the RCN’s dispute with the government over the pay of NHS nursing staff, after NHS members rejected a 5% deal for 2023/24.
‘We all stand together as a nursing family and a nursing voice,’ she said. ‘We’ve talked a lot about fair pay for nursing, and these [general practice] nurses deserve fair pay too.’
However, speaking to Nursing in Practice on Tuesday, RCN chief executive and general secretary Pat Cullen said she believed GPNs ‘deserved’ their pay to be looked at too, and claimed this was something the college was working on.
In another stark revelation, one RCN member said his GPN wife had been ‘given a £250 payment in lieu of a raise this year’.
‘I think it’s vital that the RCN doesn’t lose sight of championing the cause of nurses working outside of the NHS,’ added the member.