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The public sector pay cap has officially been lifted

Ian Snug

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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.

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.

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Workforce

Patients are being mislead by unregistered staff using the “Nurse” title

Ian Snug

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Leading nurses warn that organisations are employing unregistered care staff with job titles describing them as “nurses”.

A study has that found hundreds of roles which do not require Nursing and Midwifery Council registration used the term “Nurse” in the job title.  This, understandably, has caused concern that patients are being misled and staff could be working beyond their competence.

According to the Health Service Journal, Jane Cummings, Englands’ Chief Nursing Officer, has written to NHS leaders calling for them to ensure staff who use the nurse title are in fact registered nurses.

We found several examples, on the NHS jobs website, of positions which utilise the “Nurse” title but do not require an NMC Registration to apply;

  • Assistant Nurse Practitioner.
  • Enhanced Supervision Nurse.
  • Clinical Support Nurse.
  • Associate Nurse.
  • Complex Support Nurse.
  • Assistant Nurse.
  • Auxilliary Nurse.
  • Nurse Support Worker.

Jackie Smith, the NMC’s Chief Executive and Registrar, has previously said;

“If individuals are calling themselves nurses and they are not on our register, then from a patient perspective that is quite worrying. Employers should not mislead patients into thinking the person in front of them is a registered nurse when they are not. They have a duty to make that clear to patients”.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary, said:

“Support workers play an extremely important role but there must always be a clear distinction between them and trained nurses.

“As the shortage of nurses begins to bite, the NHS is increasingly filling shifts with more unregistered care staff. They do not have the qualifications and training of registered nurses and it is unfair on the all sides, not least patients, when they replace more qualified staff.

“The Government must not allow nursing on the cheap. When the number of registered nurses on shift falls, it is patient outcomes and mortality rates that are adversely affected.”

Presently, only the title “Registered Nurse” is protected but staff are calling for the title “Nurse” to also be protected.

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MP insists nurses are already well paid compared to hairdressers, plumbers or carpenters

James M

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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.”

You can view Eddie Hughe’s speech here.

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”.

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