COVID-19: health secretary draws fire for refusing to commit to future nurse pay rise
Nursing organisations say wage hike would ‘show who we really value’
Upcoming pay negotiations will test if the government values nurses as much as it claims, nursing groups have said.
They spoke out following health and social care secretary Matt Hancock’s comments during a Downing Street press conference on 15 May, in which he refused to commit to a pay rise for nurses after the COVID-19 pandemic had passed.
Praise for nurses – but no indication of future pay rise
While Mr Hancock said he agreed that nursing was a highly skilled profession and deserved decent pay, he stopped short of promising future pay awards.
‘We put up nurses’ pay last month,’ he said, ‘and last year we had the biggest rise in pay, especially for nurses starting their career.
‘I think one of the things that the crisis has shown is just how much the nation values our staff across the health and care system, including nurses.’
Responding to Mr Hancock’s comments, Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: ‘The health secretary’s right to acknowledge the value of nurses and other healthcare staff, and how they deserve decent pay.
‘When pay talks start in the coming months, ministers should reflect this – as well as ensuring they’re paid properly for every hour they work.’
RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair argued that the public favoured a pay increase for nurses.
‘The government should listen to the support shown by the public to our nursing staff, and show them the same respect when it comes to their pay,’ she said.
‘NHS staff and the public need to stand together’
Campaigning group Nurses United said some nurses had lost the equivalent of a fifth of their pay, in real terms, when measured against inflation over the past decade.
Nurses United lead organiser Anthony Johnson said: ‘NHS staff and the public need to stand together against this and show who we really value.’
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