A senior figure in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has written to the government to demand general practice nurses are not “denied” a pay rise over a lack of funding.
Patricia Marquis, RCN England director, today wrote to Neil O’Brien, minister for primary care, to reiterate the union’s demand that all salaried general practice healthcare workers in England receive a 6% uplift, back paid to April 2023, which was announced in summer.
“Their pay rise is months late, and for many the money promised could be missing”
This rise, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said at the time, was intended to cover both salaried general practitioners themselves, and all other salaried general practice staff including nurses.
Funding for the rise, however, remained unclear until this week when funds via an increase to the Global Sum – responsible for around half of the income GP organisations receive – was confirmed for November.
A joint statement by the RCN and British Medical Association (BMA) yesterday aired concerns about this method of funding, given that it creates regional disparities in the amount received by surgeries.
Some practices, the RCN has claimed, have themselves aired concerns that the funding will not be enough to cover staff pay rises in full.
In some cases, the two unions said, this funding model risked leaving some nurses with a pay uplift below the promised 6% – or no pay rise at all.
Ms Marquis’ letter asked Mr O’Brien to give clarity on what guidance the department has given to general practices to make sure staff get the full pay rise “fairly and swiftly”.
She wrote: “Nursing staff in general practice provide vital primary care to their local communities and are the bedrock of the services available in general practice surgeries.
“There is already a clear disparity between employment terms of nursing staff working in general practice compared to other parts of the NHS. Now, their pay rise is months late, and for many the money promised could be missing.”
The RCN England director said her organisation was “unequivocal” that all nursing staff in general practice should receive the full 6%.
“We are hugely grateful to GP nursing staff and their teams for the work they do”
Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson
“Since [July, when the uplift was announced], it has become clear that this promised increase is at risk for many working in practices that will not receive the full funding,” said Ms Marquis.
“Our members working in general practice play a critical role in preventative care, early detection and addressing the backlog in primary care services.
“They already feel undervalued, and uncertainty over whether they will receive a pay uplift which your department made clear they are entitled to but may never come, will only compound this.”
An RCN spokesperson added that the union would continue honouring its offer to members of help to resolve local disputes should pay rises be late, not in full or denied entirely.
Responding to the letter, a DHSC spokesperson said that they “expect” primary care employers to give all of their salaried staff, including nurses, the full 6% pay rise.
They 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.
“More widely, we are working with NHS England to grow the workforce with over 17,200 more nurses in the NHS than last year.”