The Royal College of Nursing (union and professional body for nursing staff) has led a sustained campaign lobbying the Government to scrap the 1% cap on agenda for change NHS staff , which has been in place since 2010. Its latest campaign calls on MPs to urge the Chancellor to provide additional funding for a pay rise for nurses at the Autumn Budget.
Nurses do a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances and are well overdue a pay rise. The determination, professionalism and compassion of nurses comes against the backdrop of years of pay restraint. Indeed, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) estimates that since 2010 there has been a real-terms drop in earnings of 14%. I am seriously concerned by reports from the RCN that some nursing staff are now relying on foodbanks and second jobs to make ends meet.
In 2015 the Government announced a maximum pay increase of 1% in public sector pay until 2019-20. I believe that this is simply not sustainable. In March, the independent NHS pay review body warned that public sector pay is coming under “stress.” The report added that there are “widespread concerns about recruitment, retention and motivation” of staff.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has confirmed that applications to study nursing fell by 23% this year. The Nursing and Midwifery Council has also reported an increase in the number of nurses and midwives leaving the professions. NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts, said that “seven years of pay restraint is now preventing them from recruiting and retaining the staff they need to provide safe, high-quality patient care.”
As you are aware, the House of Commons debated an Opposition motion on NHS pay on 13 September 2017, calling on the Government to end the public sector pay cap in the NHS. I supported the motion and it was passed without a vote, meaning the House of Commons was unanimous in saying that the Government should now end the pay cap and give health workers a fair pay rise.