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Furlough versus NHS pay rise: nurses condemn health minister’s ‘sexist’ comments

Nadine Dorries says nurses would prefer furlough pay for partners than their own pay rise
Health minister Nadine Dorries claims nurses would rather their partners kept furlough pay than get a pay rise

Ex-nurse Nadine Dorries told Womans Hour most nurses would prefer furlough pay to be funded for their partners, than get a pay rise for themselves

Nurses have reacted with fury to a government ministers suggestion they would accept a 1% pay rise if their partners were on furlough.

Health minister Nadine Dorries comments have been condemned on Twitter, with her remarks being labelled as sexist and that nurses should not have to be dependent on partners to pay bills.

Speaking in defence of budget 2021

Ms Dorries, a former nurse, made the comments on BBC Womans Hour on 11 March. She was discussing opposition to the governments recommendation to the NHS Pay

Ex-nurse Nadine Dorries told Woman’s Hour most nurses would prefer furlough pay to be funded for their partners, than get a pay rise for themselves

Health minister and ex-nurse Nadine Dorries’ comments on nurses' pay sprarks anger
Health minister and former nurse Nadine Dorries

Nurses have reacted with fury to a government minister’s suggestion they would accept a 1% pay rise if their partners were on furlough.

Health minister Nadine Dorries’ comments have been condemned on Twitter, with her remarks being labelled as sexist and that nurses should not have to be dependent on partners to pay bills.

Speaking in defence of budget 2021

Ms Dorries, a former nurse, made the comments on BBC Woman’s Hour on 11 March. She was discussing opposition to the government’s recommendation to the NHS Pay Review Body of a pay rise of 1% for NHS staff on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts.

The health minister recalled a recent conversation with a nurse working at a vaccination centre, saying: ‘She said to me “We have two children in our house, there are two of us, two wages coming in and one mortgage going out”.

‘“If I had to choose between my husband being furloughed until the autumn or a pay rise I would choose my husband being furloughed any day because we have the security that our mortgage will be paid”.’

‘It simply isn’t appropriate to expect women to be dependent on men to eat, pay the bills and care for their families’

Leanne Patrick, founder of RCN Feminist Network

Ms Dorries said most nurses would prefer continued government funding of the furlough scheme than bigger pay rise for NHS staff. Chancellor Rishi Sunak used his budget speech to announce the furlough scheme would carry on until the end of September.

‘I do think most nurses get it… they understand that’s a really important decision we had to make,’ she told the programme.

Nurse Twitter’s reaction to minister’s comments

Many nurses were unimpressed:

Comments ‘were inappropriate’

RCN Feminist Network founder Leanne Patrick said: ‘Nadine Dorries fails to recognise that nurses are not a homogenous group of married women with employed husbands; many are single mothers, disabled or working part-time to juggle their childcare commitments,’ she said.

‘It simply isn't appropriate to expect women to be dependent on men to eat, pay the bills and care for their families.’


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