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The public sector pay cap has officially been lifted

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The ‘hard cap’ on public sector pay has officially been lifted following today’s debate in the house of commons.

The government has confirmed that the ‘hard cap’ on public sector pay has officially been lifted and said there would be scope for more “flexibility” over public sector pay rises from 2018-19.

The non-binding motion, tabled by the Labour Party, passed uncontested after a 4-hour long debate.

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Ministers will now await individual reports from independent pay review bodies, who look at issues like recruitment, retention and affordability before awarding any pay increases.

The next NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) Report will be due in March 2018 and until that time the current Agenda for Change pay scales will remain in-force. 

In closing statements, Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said;

“The government has announced that we are moving from a blanket approach of having a 1% public sector pay cap to greater flexibility in each workforce across the public sector.

“The Secretary of State for Health will submit evidence to the indepdent pay review body, they will look at issues like recruitment, retention and affordability and they will come back with a recommendation.

“We need to make sure pay is fair for those in the NHS but we need to make sure it is fair for the tax payers that fund those services”.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is disappointed that the pay cap hasn’t been removed with immediate effect and call for nurses to keep fighting until next years pay review body to recommend more than a 1 per cent rise.

In a statement, Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:

“The Government saw the strength of opposition and backed away to avoid defeat. Despite this, the pay cap sadly remains in place tonight. The Government failed to take the opportunity to scrap it explicitly.

“Ministers must listen to tens of thousands of nurses who are campaigning on this and put in writing that the cap no longer applies to NHS staff. Nursing staff will continue fighting until there is evidence that next year’s pay body can recommend more than a 1 per cent rise.

“Ministers are continuing to hold pay down, leaving professionals over £3,000 a year worse off. It drives nursing staff out of the NHS and patients pay the price.”

You can watch the full debate online.

Workforce

Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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Workforce

NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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