The National Audit Office report, published last week, showed England’s 23,797 practice nurses were doing 34% of consultations in 2006, compared with 21% in 1995.
It also drew on figures from a government-funded health and social care research establishment, the Personal Social Services Research Unit, which estimates that the basic salary of a practice nurse has fallen by 9.6% – from £23,355 in 2005 to £21,118 in 2006. The NAO, however, claims that the average earnings of a practice partner increased from £72,011 in 2003 to £113,614 in 2007.
‘In focus groups carried out with approximately 100 practitioners in London, the NAO found nurses’ morale is being affected by the new [GP] contract,’ the report stated.
Kate Howie, chairperson of the RCN’s practice nurse forum, said: ‘Practice nurses are not really paid for the job that they are doing. There are still many nurses who don’t get a pay rise and their salary actually decreases annually.
‘Workload is increasing under the quality and outcomes framework and nurses are leading on management of long-term conditions such as diabetes – but are not being paid for it,’ she added.
Responding to the NAO report, Unison said practice nurses should receive pay rises in line with nurses on Agenda for Change contracts. Karen Jennings, Unison’s head of health, said: ‘Unison is calling on the British Medical Association to recommend to its members a minimum of Agenda for Change for all staff including nurses, practice managers and receptionists.’