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GP contract fails to acknowledge ‘crucial role’ of nurses, says RCN

The new GP contract does not acknowledge the ‘crucial role’ of nurses and must do better to improve practice nurse pay and conditions, the Royal College of Nursing has said.  

The document, published last week (6 February), stated that vaccinations and immunisations will become an essential contractual service but did not recognise that nurses primarily administer jabs. 

Asthma, COPD and heart failure indicators are set to be updated from 2021. Nurses do much of the testing and logging of information for the indicators. 

RCN professional lead for general practice nursing Marie Therese Massey told Nursing in Practice that both vaccinations and long-term conditions are ‘primarily managed by experienced practice nurses’.

The RCN is ‘disappointed that the new contract does not acknowledge the crucial role’ of nurses in delivering the changes’, she added. 

A spokesperson for the RCN also said that the contract ‘needs to provide greater improvements to the pay and conditions of general practice nurses’, who are not covered by Agenda for Change.    

They continued: ‘We need to see greater equivalence in general practice between the pay, terms and conditions of nurses and that of allied health professionals and their NHS colleagues, or the current recruitment and retention problems facing practice nursing will deepen.’

The contract, which covers 2020/21 - 2023/24, will also allow practices to offer first-time partnerships, including to nurses £20,000, which would ‘initially be a loan’.    

In addition, it proposed a two-year fellowship scheme to support and train all newly qualified nurses and doctors entering general practice. 

From 2020/21, GPs must also offer a 6-8 week postnatal check for new mothers, backed by an additional £12 million investment. 

Chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives Gill Walton welcomed the extra funding to ensure that mothers and babies receive the ‘crucial’ postnatal check.

‘We know that for some women with pregnancy related mental illness, if identified early by a GP, can be treated close to their home and avoid any condition escalating,’ she said. 

The most recent contract update was developed by the British Medical Association, General Practitioners Committee England and NHS England and NHS Improvement.


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