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Boris Johnson’s statement on nurse pay inaccurate and ‘demoralising’, says RCN chief

Dame Donna Kinnair says nursing staff deserve fair pay and recognition, not more clapping

Dame Donna Kinnair says nursing staff are worse off than ten years ago and deserve fair pay and proper recognition, not more clapping

Prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to reflect the reality of nurse pay, after he claimed the profession had already received a 12.8% pay rise.

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said Mr Johnsons statement, made in the House of Commons on 6 January, was demoralising and not a statement nursing staff will recognise.

Boris Johnson says nurses were key beneficiary of public sector pay rises

Responding to a question from Labour party leader

Dame Donna Kinnair says nursing staff are worse off than ten years ago and deserve fair pay and proper recognition, not more clapping

Prime minister Boris Johnson told Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons that nurses have been key pay beneficiaries of public sector pay rises
Speaking in the Commons, Prime minister Boris Johnson said nurses have been key beneficiaries of recent public sector pay rises Picture: Parliament TV

Prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to reflect the reality of nurse pay, after he claimed the profession had already received a 12.8% pay rise.

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said Mr Johnson’s statement, made in the House of Commons on 6 January, was demoralising and ‘not a statement nursing staff will recognise’.

Boris Johnson says nurses were key beneficiary of public sector pay rises

Responding to a question from Labour party leader Sir Kier Starmer on public sector pay, Mr Johnson said: ‘There’s been above-inflation pay increases for public sector workers, nurses in particular have had a 12.8% increase over the last few years.’

In response, Professor Kinnair wrote to Mr Johnson, urging him to reflect the truth. ‘Nursing staff are worse off now than they were in 2010, following years of freezes and awards that were capped below the level of inflation,’ she wrote.

‘On their behalf, I urge you and fellow ministers to be accurate when discussing their pay. To our members working a brutal shift today this kind of message from you is demoralising.’

‘Proper recognition and fair pay – not more clapping’

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair
Dame Donna Kinnair
Picture: Justine Desmond

With a nod to calls to resume the weekly rounds of applause for key workers, Professor Kinnair added that Mr Johnson can demonstrate appreciation by improving nurses’ pay.

‘It cannot be right that ten months into this pandemic, our nursing staff are still worse off than ten years ago. Experienced nursing staff are 15.3% worse off in real terms,’ she said.

‘You have a historic opportunity to show you truly value our work, skill and dedication. Our members want proper recognition and fair pay – not more clapping.’

Mr Johnson was referencing the three-year pay deal agreed between the government and unions in 2018, the last pay rise of which was implemented in April 2020.

Touted as the biggest salary increase for nurses in a decade, it led to pay increases of at least 6.5% for most staff after years of pay restraint. However, at the lower end of the pay scales, newly qualified nurses’ pay increased by more than 12%.


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RCN response to prime minister’s statement on public sector workers and nursing staff


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