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Practices may not be able to fulfil 6% pay rise for salaried staff and nurses, unions warn

by Julie Griffiths
23 October 2023

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Some practices may not be able to afford a 6% pay rise for salaried GP staff and practice nurses despite extra Government money being given to surgeries to cover the increase, the BMA and Royal College of Nurses (RCN) have warned.

A joint statement from the BMA General Practitioners Committee England (GPCE) and the RCN has advised that the way the uplift is applied (via the global sum) will lead to ‘some inequity amongst GP practices’.

‘Some practices will not receive enough additional funding to cover an entire 6% uplift for all salaried staff member, whereas others will in fact get more than they need to do so,’ Dr Katie Bramall-Stainter, chair of GPCE, and Patricia Marquis, director of RCN England, said.

The professional bodies have urged anyone with concerns about receiving their pay rise to talk to their practice.

Earlier this year, the Government announced that all salaried general practice staff in England, including nurses, should receive a 6% pay uplift and that it would provide extra funds to cover it.

Negotiations involving NHS England and the GPCE led to a deal where the global sum being paid to practices increases from £102.28 to £104.73 for 2023/24, with money being backdated to April and due to be distributed from this month.

The agreed uplift effectively increases the staffing expenses element of the GP contract funding pot by a total of 6% in 2023/24.   

The extra money was welcomed, said the GPCE and RCN, but it does ‘not go far enough to address the impact of the current cost of living crisis and workforce attrition across general practice, including in the disparity between nurses and other general practice staff employment terms compared to other parts of the NHS.’

They also explained that the uplift may not translate to a 6% uplift for all practice staff because it is being distributed via the global sum, a payment per patient that varies following application of the Carr-Hill formula.

‘This formula allocates funding per patient for each individual practice based on age/sex/additional needs/list turnover/staff market forces and rurality’ the statement added, meaning some GP practices benefit more and others less.

Although decisions on staff pay increases are ultimately down to individual practices, the GPCE and RCN said they ‘encourage GPs to use this increase in funding as an opportunity to invest in their staff’.  

They have also asked that practices share information with them on how they are being affected by the issue of funding for pay rises.

‘This will allow RCN and GPCE to gather insight into how the pay uplift conversations are going and to build a case to Government for fairer pay uplift mechanisms for all staff in general practice’.   

In addition, the bodies have advised anyone with concerns about receiving a pay rise to ask their employer ‘to be transparent about the additional percentage funding they have received for this intended uplift’. They should also ask what calculations have been carried out to determine the pay increase offered.

The RCN and GPCE statement went on to say that ‘securing recurrent pay uplifts for all practice staff is vital for the future success of general practice’.

They also added they are ‘committed to working closely together to ensure fully funded fairer terms for nurses in general practice as an integral part of the general practice team.  

‘The evidence base and role of nursing staff in general practice is well proven, and their familiarity with patients as trusted regulated nursing professionals is unquestioned. 

‘We believe the key to successful recruitment and retention of these essential roles lies in securing contractual parity with trust nursing roles, through protected funding and dedicated development programmes.’