Almost half of GPNs missing pay rise, survey suggests

Almost half of nursing staff in general practice did not receive a pay rise last year, new figures suggest.

A survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found that 44% of general practice respondents did not receive any uplift to their pay for the 2023-24 financial year.

“Relations between nursing staff and the government have never been so strained”

Patricia Marquis

Meanwhile, a third of survey respondents said they had received a pay award, but that the amount was lower than the 6% they should have received. 

Only 20% of respondents said they had received the full 6% pay offer, and of those, 19% had not received back pay to April 2023.

As self-employed contractors to the NHS, GP surgeries decide staff pay independently and are not obliged to follow Agenda for Change.

However, in November, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) increased the block funding for general practice and told surgeries to use this money to provide all salaried staff with a 6% pay rise.

At the time, the RCN and the British Medical Association (BMA) raised concerns this model of funding may lead to some surgeries not receiving enough money to cover the cost of the pay rise.

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The nursing union has now said this is why more than three-quarters of its surveyed general practice members reported not receiving the full 6%, and called for “immediate government intervention” to remedy this.

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said, following the publication of the survey’s results, the government should “immediately” provide ring-fenced funding for the pay uplift.

Ms Marquis said: “Relations between nursing staff and the government have never been so strained.

“Nursing pay needs a fresh start – staff report feeling undervalued and undermined after over a decade of pay restraint, and late pay awards.

“The government should be valuing the role nursing staff in primary care play, instead of leaving them short-changed.

“They keep communities healthy, detecting disease early, reducing hospital admissions, and preventing more patients from ending up at A&E.”

Around two-thirds (64%) of RCN’s general practice respondents also expressed concern about the lack of transparency from their employer about pay awards.

The RCN has now written to Victoria Atkins, secretary of state for health and social care, and the minister of state for health Andrew Stephenson to demand DHSC steps in to provide the ringfenced pay.

The union further aired concerns that general practice nurses added to the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme could “emphasise the disparity” between them and those on Agenda for Change contracts.

Responding to the RCN’s survey, a DHSC spokesperson reiterated to Nursing Times its position that staff pay was ultimately a decision for the practices themselves.

They said: “We hugely value and appreciate the vital work carried out by general practice nurses.

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“The government accepted the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body’s recommendation on salaried general practice staff pay and increased the 2023-24 GP contract to provide funding for them to receive a 6% pay rise.

“It is for GP practices to determine employee pay.”

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