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Nurse Recruitment and Retention: GP Practices

Volume 748: debated on Tuesday 23 April 2024

We hugely appreciate the work that general practice nurses do. I know that the hon. Lady was a nurse in her previous life, and I absolutely pay tribute to her for her service. She will be aware that last year the Government provided additional funding for the general practice contract to uplift pay by 6%, in line with the pay review body’s recommendations. We are very much aware of the need to try to ensure that general practice nurses feel appreciated and are keen to be retained in GP practices, which is one of the reasons I have launched a taskforce on the future of general practice. As she will know, it is for GP practices themselves to determine the pay uplift for their nurses. I am looking closely at that, because we know that sometimes the pay rise provided by the Government was not passed on.

We have all seen images of people queuing around the block for an appointment at their GP surgery, and in my local integrated care board, there has been a decline in general practice nurses since June 2020. It currently takes 12 months to train nurses wishing to move into general practice. Will the Minister tell me and my constituents in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale what she is doing to ensure that the retention of experienced nurses and the training of new nurses does not add to the pressure that GPs are already facing?

The hon. Lady raises an important point. The long-term workforce plan commits to increasing the number of general practice nurses by more than 5,000 by 2036-37. In her area, the number of doctors in general practice in the NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB increased by 134 full-time equivalents between 2019 and 2023, but the number of nurses decreased slightly, by 34 full-time equivalents. However, over the same period, direct patient care staff increased by 1,195 full-time equivalents. I think that demonstrates to the hon. Lady that the actual resources in GP practice are increasing, with specialisms such as physiotherapy and pharmacy, as well as nurse prescribers, to provide patients more access to good healthcare.