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Improving pay is most pressing NHS issue for next Government, say practice managers

by Rima Evans
3 June 2024

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Exclusive The next Government should make better pay for all NHS staff its highest priority when it comes to tackling issues in the health service, practice and PCN managers have said.

Our Management in Practice survey on the state of primary care revealed that 72% said improved pay in the NHS needs to be addressed most urgently.

Reducing the elective care backlog was highlighted as the next priority by 56% of respondents, followed by more efficient discharge of patients from hospital (55%) nd increased recruitment of GPs (54%).

A total of 231 practice and PCN managers completed the survey, which asked respondents to rank the NHS issues they thought should be top of the list for the next Government to address (see box below).

A general election has been called for 4 July.

On the issue of pay, one practice manager respondent based in England said: ‘Pay for the NHS should include all staff employed in primary care’.

They added that primary care employees are ‘completely ignored in NHS pay increases and are falling behind year after year’ but that it is they who have to face patients’  frustrations.

Another said: ‘I wish pay rises were available for the practices’ regular staff rather than [there being] so much funding for ARRS roles and PCNs, as around a 5% rise does not make much of a difference to the lowest earners. There is so much more work for practice, I have never felt so overworked in my nearly 20years NHS career.’

Meanwhile, opinion is divided on whether PCNs should be scrapped with 23% saying that should be a top priority for the next Government but 28% saying it’s only a low priority.

Low on practice and PCN managers’ list of concerns are AI-driven care, driving forward integrated neighbourhood teams and environmental sustainability of the NHS.

The question was part of a wider survey of over 1,795 healthcare professionals, including GPs, nurses, ARRS staff and more, on the State of Primary Care, which will inform a report due out next month.

The highest and lowest priorities for practice and PCN managers

Our survey asked, on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being low priority and 5 being high priority, what do you think the priority should be for the next government in terms of the NHS? 

Respondents that marked these as highest priority (5) were:

72% Better pay for all NHS staff

56% Reducing elective care backlog

55%  More efficient discharge of patients 

54% More recruitment of GPs

50% Reducing A&E waiting times

47% More recruitment of general practice nurses

46% Improving ambulance response times

46% Improving movement of patients between primary and secondary care

40% Improving patient access to primary care

23% Scrapping PCNs

17% Environmental sustainability of the NHS

16% More support for community pharmacy

6% Driving forward integrated neighbourhood teams

6% AI-driven care

Respondents that marked these as lowert priority (1) were:

28% AI-driven care

28% Scrapping PCNs

22% Driving forward integrated neighbourhood teams

13% Environmental sustainability of the NHS

11% More support for community pharmacy

6% Improving patient access to primary care

5% Improving ambulance response times

5% Better pay for all NHS staff

5%  More recruitment of GPs

4% Reducing elective care backlog

4% More recruitment of general practice nurses

4% Reducing A&E waiting times

3% More efficient discharge of patients from hospital

3% Improving movement of patients between primary and secondary care