Nurses in senior public health posts should receive similar pay to doctors doing the same roles, the Royal College of Nursing has said.
The college last week submitted its response to a Department of Health consultation on the future of the public health workforce (document attached, right), under which most specialist staff will be transferred to local councils.
The RCN highlighted the important role of nurses in public health, both as specialists in the area and those who dealt with it as part of everyday care. Nursing expertise and experience in public health needed to be more strongly recognised in the new system, the college argued.
It called for a universal framework around training and career progression, which it said would allow would allow all public health practitioners to progress along a recognised pathway to higher roles.
“A universal framework would also encourage parity of pay for professionals who undertake a particular role so, for example, public health consultants or directors of public health would receive a similar salary for this role based on skills and experience rather than professional background,” the RCN suggested.
It noted that over the past few years, a small number of nurses have been appointed to director of public health posts, which have traditionally been held mostly by doctors.
The RCN also called for recognition of the importance of continuing professional development for specialist practitioners.
In addition, it said Health Education England needed to address the education needs of public health nurses. The RCN said it was concerned the new education and training body seemed to be focusing on the needs of doctors and dentists “to the detriment and separation of nursing education”.