Nurses want higher rates for extended hours

A poll of practice nurses shows 78 per cent want unsocial hours payments to work evenings and weekends.

More than three quarters of nurses will not work extended hours unless they receive higher rates of pay, survey findings have shown.

A poll by GP's sister magazine Independent Nurse showed that, of 148 nurses who took part, 78 per cent said they would not work any extended hours unless GPs paid unsocial hours rates.

More than half said they would not work Saturdays, while 44 per cent said they would not work evenings or mornings before 8am under any circumstances.

Extended practice hours are part of the dispute between the DoH and BMA in current GMS contract negotiations. The DoH wants GP practices to open an extra 30 minutes a week per 1,000 patients.

The BMA proposed an extra 15 minutes' consulting and five minutes' administration per 1,000 patients per week.

However, nurses are likely to be heading for a clash with their employers over extended hours, the Independent Nurse poll suggests.

It found that 81 per cent believe their working hours will change if their practice takes on extended hours, but 69 per cent do not believe their practice will top up their pay.

Two thirds of nurses said their practice had not discussed extended opening hours with them.

Fifty-five per cent said their practice was planning to open longer, but only half of this group had been consulted, while a third had no idea if their practice would extend opening.

According to 96 per cent of respondents, there should have been national consultation with nurses over extended opening hours.

Kate Howie, chairwoman of the Practice Nurse Association at the Royal College of Nurses (RCN), warned that if GPs failed to discuss changes to working hours with nurses or to offer additional pay, nurses would walk out on general practice.

One respondent to the survey said: 'I have changed working hours over the years to accommodate practice needs, but feel very frustrated that changes are going to be implemented without consulting nurses.'

Another nurse wrote: 'There is no way on Earth I am going to work Saturdays for basic rate. I would rather leave nursing all together out of principle.'

The impact on day services was also a concern. 'In order to work longer, I will have to alter my working hours, which means that we will have less cover during the day,' one respondent said.

The RCN says practice-based nurses should receive unsocial hours pay worth at least time plus 30 per cent for working Saturdays, evenings or early mornings. This is the rate paid to nurses elsewhere in the NHS.

GPletters@haymarket.com

Nurses' reactions

  • 78 per cent will only work extended hours if paid unsocial hour rates.
  • 53 per cent will not work Saturdays.
  • 44 per cent will not work evenings or mornings before 8am.
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