General practice faces nurse exodus as two thirds say they are underpaid

Two thirds of practice nurses believe they are underpaid and a third plan to retire in the next five years, according to a poll that sheds new light on the deepening GP crisis.

A report by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) that highlights the state of general practice nursing and challenges for the future found practice nurses taking on extra work but feeling this was not reflected in their pay. Some work second jobs to boost income, the poll found.

The QNI, a charity dedicated to improving community nursing, surveyed more than 3,400 practices nurses about their jobs.

Around 65% of respondents said their salary did not reflect their role. The QNI said the finding should ‘be a cause of concern to their employers and to commissioners responsible for staff retention and workforce planning'.

GP practice nurse pay

Over 38% of the practices nurses said they were in pay band six - earning from £26,041 to £34,876 a year, with around 13% in band five (£21,692 - £28,180). Around 34% said they were in bands seven (up to £40,964) or eight (up to £47,559 in range A).

One nurse told the QNI: ‘We have quite a bit [of] responsibility, within lone working, chronic disease management and being encouraged to undergo nurse prescribing, which I feel a pay band 5-6 does not reflect.’ 

Another added: ‘ I am the clinical lead nurse. I mentor junior nurses and advise on all aspects of the role to colleagues. I am paid the equivalent of £15 / hr gross, which I do not feel reflects the degree of responsibility, stress, organisational and department management and organisational skills that my role entails.’

Practice nurse workforce

Asked when they plan to retire, just over a third said within the next five years. The findings, the QNI said, confirmed a trend identified in an earlier RCGP survey.

Other findings:

  • Men comprise just 2% of the GP nurse workforce
  • 43.1% did not feel their nursing team has the right number of appropriately qualified and trained staff to meet the needs of patients
  • 53% reported that their employer always supports their professional development
  • Just 27% of employers offered placements for pre-registration nursing students, compared to 61.5% offering placements to medical students
  • 22.8% of nurses working in general practice have two jobs
  • 32.6% of GP nurses reported working evening sessions (after 6pm) and 18.5% work weekends
  • Over 38.3% indicated that they visit patients at home
  • Only 35% felt that their salary reflected their role within the practice

QNI chief executive Crystal Oldman said: ‘The findings of the survey indicate some major challenges and opportunities which need to be addressed. The role of nurses in general practice is expanding rapidly, and many of today’s nurses are now undertaking roles traditionally the reserve of GPs. There is a huge opportunity for increased investment in the general practice nurse workforce, to build the capacity of primary care, move more care to the community and closer to people’s own homes, and ease the pressures on A&E.'

She added: ‘The survey findings will be useful to policymakers and workforce planners as they explore new models of care and meet the challenges of an older population with multiple and complex healthcare needs. The number of nurses planning to retire should be of major concern and we need to ensure that enough nurses are attracted to the profession so that patients can continue to receive high quality nursing care for themselves and their families when they attend the GP surgery.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in