RCN calls for an ‘honest dialogue’ on nursing pay

The average earnings for NHS staff have not kept pace with the cost of living since 2010.

Laura Townsend
23 May 2020
Money on a receipt.

Over the past decade, the majority of NHS staff have been subjected to a real-terms pay cut.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called for an “honest dialogue” on nursing pay and how the Government values the nursing workforce ahead of the next formal pay round.

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The next pay round will determine how nursing staff in the NHS in England are paid after April 2021.

Over the past decade, the majority of NHS staff have been subjected to a real-terms pay cut.

In a joint letter to Boris Johnson, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair and RCN Chair of Council Dee Sissons write that the Prime Minister will have recently seen “the professionalism and dedication of this nation’s nursing staff”.

They write; “Nursing staff were struggling to cope with the pressures caused by the shortage, already starting to leave before retirement, and many may not feel able to stay in the profession after the potentially intolerable pressures they will have faced during this crisis.

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“This is not the time to be complacent. The two nurses who saved you are part of a highly-skilled workforce that must be made to feel recognised, supported and valued.”

A “significant pay rise”.

Following Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s comments of nursing staff recently receiving a “significant pay rise”, they emphasise; “the majority of nursing staff will not recognise the 15% figure quoted” and “Discussing pay out of the context of costs of living, combined with a suggestion elsewhere last week of a pay freeze, are totally out of step with nursing need and public support.”

The college points out that the average earnings for NHS staff have not kept pace with the cost of living since 2010.

They remind the PM that: “We entered the pandemic with a substantial shortage of nursing staff – at least 40,000 registered nurse vacancies in the NHS in England alone, not accounting for social care.

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“The nation has never better understood or recognised our contribution to society, and we welcome the public interest in nursing pay.”

While the Health Secretary committed to “fight for that fair reward” for nursing staff, the RCN says this fight must begin on the basis of facts – and the reality of current and future nursing staff making career choices.

The NHS Pay Review Body examines evidence submitted by Unions and the Government before making a final recommendation on NHS pay.

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