Promising guaranteed placements in primary care is unrealistic, say nursing leaders

Pledge in new GP contract seeks to boost equality between nursing and medical students

Pledge in new GP contract seeks to boost equality between nursing and medical students

Picture: John Houlihan

Guaranteeing placements in primary care for nursing students will be difficult to achieve due to the lower payments GPs receive for hosting them compared with medical students, nursing leaders have said.

The placements pledge is outlined in the five-year GP contract agreed with unions and NHS England, which was published at the end of January. 

Tariff gap

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman said nursing students attract a payment to GPs – known as a placement tariff – of between £70 to £74 per week at any stage of their nursing programme. 

‘However, for medical students the placement tariff is more than eight times this – at £655 per week in year three of the five-year medical degree programme,’ she added.

‘The rationale for the disparity between the placement tariffs needs to be understood, with a view to ensuring that the tariff for nursing students is increased to truly reflect the costs of the placement support.’

Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership primary and community care lead nurse Louise Brady said GPs are not given an incentive to take on nursing students.

‘If we get the tariffs for nursing and medical students levied up so they are equitable, we wouldn’t have this issue because this would incentivise GPs.’

The GP contract notes that more than 600 nurses were recruited to general practice in England between 2015-18. It is hoped that guaranteed nursing student placements, and an increase in apprenticeships, will help to boost this figure to 1,000 by 2020–21 – a target set by the GP Forward View published by NHS England in 2016.

A bigger picture

RCN head of nursing practice Wendy Preston said nursing students would benefit from placements in primary care because they show the breadth and depth of experiences that a career in nursing can offer. 

An NHS England spokesperson said further details on the placements will be ‘announced in due course’.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are reviewing the tariffs for nurse education and training so that they better reflect the costs and benefits to employers of students and trainees, and to ensure we continue to make the best use of the available funding.’

Read the new GP contract

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