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Kate Howie, chairperson of the RCN practice nurse forum, talks to NT about widening differences in pay levels between nurses and GPs

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A three-minute interview with Kate Howie, chairperson of the RCN’s practice nurse forum, on the news that GPs are being paid more while practice nurse salaries are dropping.

NT: How did you feel when you heard the figures?

KH: I was disappointed. It reflects the views that many practice nurses don’t really get paid for the job that they are actually doing. It reflects the views that many practice nurses are not really paid for the job that they are actually doing. There are still many nurses who don’t get a pay rise and their salary actually decreases annually.

‘Workload is increasing under QOF [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.

NT: Why is this happening?

KH: Practice nurses are employed by GPs. They are independent employers with contracts to the NHS and it is up to them to set pay.

NT: What should be done? Should practice nurses be put onto Agenda for Change scales?

KH: If we don’t have Agenda for Change, we won’t have equal and access to career pathways. I definitely think [Agenda for Change] should be given consideration for nurses working in GP practices. Of course the problem with this is the job evaluation process might put them into a lower banding. So maybe the pay award should be decided elsewhere.

NT: So should the NHS Pay Review Body decided practice nurses’ pay rise?

KH: We are one of the few nursing groups not included in the Pay Review Body’s remit, yet we are one of the largest group of nurses. We often work in isolation and it is difficult to meet with colleagues and to make changes. It is not easy dealing with a GP who also happens to be your employer.

Interview by Richard Staines

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