An MP has come under fire for saying that nurses are already well paid when compared to hairdressers, plumbers and carpenters in his constituency.
During last weeks debate on scrapping the NHS pay cap, Conservative MP Eddie Hughes said he wanted to ‘bring some context’ to the argument and went on to say that NHS staff already have a good deal when compared to hairdressers, plumbers and carpenters in his Walsall constituency.
But, Hughes has come under fire from NHS staff with nurses reiterating the issue not just about pay. The significant real-terms has also caused many nurses to turn to food banks and caused further issues with staff recruitment and retention as student nurse numbers significantly are affected.
Valerie Vaz, the Labour MP for Walsall South, said his comments ‘echoed the government’s contempt for our NHS workers’ and went on to reiterate that nurses are being forced to use food banks to make ends meet and NHS.
Speaking in Parliament, Eddie Hughes, said;
“I completely welcome the hard work that is done by NHS staff up and down the country, but please let me bring some context to the debate.
“The average income in my constituency is £440 a week, which is approximately £23,000 a year. I intend to advocate on behalf of all my constituents, not just those who work in the public sector. The average salary in my constituency is £23,000, which is about the same as a qualified nurse starts on.
“Many workers in my constituency are employed as hairdressers, plumbers or carpenters, and what pay rise do they get? They have had to work hard every year for their pay, and when we make the comparison using other factors, such as pension schemes, we see that in order to earn the same sort of pension a plumber would need to be putting away 43 per cent of their salary. Yes, we value the public sector in this country, but the Conservatives value all the workers in this country.”
Mike Adams, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing in the West Midlands, said; “They deserve nothing less than fair pay. As it is, we know many nurses work over their hours without pay as a result of staying on after the scheduled end of their shift or working through their breaks to ensure patients are well cared-for”.
RCN members deliver #ScrapTheCap petition to Downing Street
Frontline nursing staff today handed a petition of 67,000 names to Downing Street, urging the Government to scrap the cap on public sector pay.
RCN members – representing every country of the UK – led the Summer of Protest campaign in their local communities.
Michael Coram (London), Kayleigh Peel (West Midlands), Jane Leighton (Northern Ireland), Julie Lambeth (Scotland) and Jean Richards (Wales) are RCN Pay Champions and spent the summer promoting the Scrap the Cap campaign, distributing campaign materials and organising events at hospitals and in public spaces.
The petition’s signatures were collected on 67,000 postcards, which were completed during the Summer of Protest, at events held in towns and cities. If stacked end-to-end the postcards would reach more than one and a half times the height of Mount Everest. The petition was accompanied by a letter from Michael Brown, Chair of RCN Council.
The campaign saw thousands of nurses join together to protest against the 1% pay cap, which has caused nursing pay to fall by 14% in real-terms since 2010, leaving them £3,000 a year worse off.
It highlighted that low pay has stood in the way of attracting enough staff to provide safe patient care. With 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone and more nurses leaving than joining the profession, it is vital the Government ends the pay cap to prevent the nursing workforce from shrinking even further.
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:
“Nurses from all corners of the UK have shown the Government that they are a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the summer they campaigned tirelessly to end the cap which has cut their pay year-on-year.
“Our members in front of the famous door today and everybody across the UK should be proud of their achievements. The Government has listened to them and has categorically said they are scrapping the pay cap.
“This petition shows huge levels of public support for nurses, who work so hard to provide care for patients in the midst of a staffing crisis and increasing pressures in the NHS.
“Their next pay offer must not come in below inflation and Ministers must not ask the NHS to make other cuts to pay for it.”
After mounting pressure from the RCN, the public, other trade unions and MPs, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, announced in the House of Commons on October 10 that the pay cap will be scrapped.
RCN warns of a “dangerous blind-spot” in dealing with assaults on NHS staff
The Government has confirmed they will no longer collect information when NHS staff are assaulted.
Health ministers will no longer collect information on NHS staff
assaults, the Government confirmed for the first time on the eve of a
Commons debate. A decision stands in contrast to the Home Office, which monitors assaults on police officers.
The Royal College of Nursing has warned that the move leaves the Government blind to the scale of the problem and risks a further deterioration.
The news comes only a week after Unison said it had concerned that cuts to mental health service were leaving staff vulnerable to violence and aggression.
MPs will today debate a Private Member’s Bill to strengthen the
law against people who assault emergency workers.
The Department of Health confirmed that the NHS and Government will not
continue to collect assaults figures – previously gathered and released
by NHS Protect. Ministers scrapped the body in the current fiscal
year without detailing where responsibility will fall.
The legislation will double the maximum sentence for common assault from
six months to a year if committed against an emergency worker while on
Last year, a survey of RCN members found more than half had
experienced physical or verbal abuse from patients and a further 63%
from patients’ relatives or other members of the public.
Final figures from NHS Protect showed a 4% rise in physical assaults
against healthcare workers in England from 67,864 in 2014/15 to 70,555
Figures from NHS Protect show that only 10 per cent of physical
assaults, unrelated to a medical condition such as a mental health
problem or dementia, result in criminal sanctions.
Kim Sunley, RCN Senior Employment Relations Advisor, said;
“This creates a dangerous blind spot for ministers hoping to tackle the increasing number of assaults in the NHS. It is totally inadequate to rely on optional surveys, especially if the law is being tightened.
“The official body, before it was disbanded, warned Ministers the level of assaults was rising. It should not have been removed and the Government must take their role more seriously.
“This bill represents a vital step towards achieving that, but without the ability to fully monitor the figures, it will be difficult to
quantify the scale of the problem, or the effectiveness of any new law.”
NICE estimated in 2015 that attacks on staff cost the NHS £69 million a
year through absence, loss of productivity and additional security –
equal to the cost of employing about 1,800 nurses.
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