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Remember what you owe to nurses, Boris Johnson told

RCN contrasts ‘measly’ pay suggestion with prime minister’s praise for his own COVID-19 care
Picture of prime minister Boris Johnson speaking at 10 Downing Street after being discharged from hospital on 12 April

RCN contrasts measly pay recommendation with prime ministers praise after his own COVID-19 care

Prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to remember the work of nursing staff he praised after he was hospitalised with COVID-19, in light of the governments measly 1% NHS pay recommendation.

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair reminded Mr Johnson he had previously said he owed his life to nursing staff, after being admitted to intensive care in the spring of 2020.

Life-saving interventions: the difference 21st century nursing makes

When you told the world you owed your life to the care of nursing staff, when you acknowledged

RCN contrasts ‘measly’ pay recommendation with prime minister’s praise after his own COVID-19 care

Picture of prime minister Boris Johnson speaking at 10 Downing Street after being discharged from hospital on 12 April
Prime minister Boris Johnson speaks at 10 Downing Street after being discharged from hospital on 12 April 2020 Picture: Alamy

Prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to remember the work of nursing staff he praised after he was hospitalised with COVID-19, in light of the government’s ‘measly’ 1% NHS pay recommendation.

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair reminded Mr Johnson he had previously said he owed his life to nursing staff, after being admitted to intensive care in the spring of 2020.

Life-saving interventions: ‘the difference 21st century nursing makes’

‘When you told the world you owed your life to the care of nursing staff, when you acknowledged that the people who looked after you were putting themselves in harm’s way, you had your eyes opened to the difference 21st century nursing makes,’ she said in remarks directed at the prime minister during a speech at the RCN’s UK Joint Reps Virtual Conference 2021.

‘You told the country it was two nurses who stood guard for 48 hours and made life-saving interventions. How would you feel if you saw them now? They stood by you, now stand by them,’ said Professor Kinnair.

The government sparked anger from unions this month by suggesting a 1% pay rise for staff on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts in its recommendation to the independent Pay Review Body (RB), which advises on NHS pay.

The RCN says the pay of an experienced nurse has fallen by 15.3% in real terms over the past ten years. It has called for a 12.5% pay rise when the current pay deal for AfC staff ends in April.

The RB is due to report to the government on the 2021-22 pay round in May, but the RCN and the Unite union have warned of possible industrial action if the government’s pay offer does not improve.

A COVID bonus ‘sweetener’ no substitute for real pay rise, says RCN

Professor Kinnair told delegates: ‘Two weeks ago the government revealed its hand in the debate around the next NHS pay award – a measly 1%. NHS staff and public outrage has made the government recognise it has misjudged the offer.’

A so-called COVID bonus has been paid to NHS staff in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not in England. The one-off payments were in recognition of workers’ efforts during the pandemic.

Professor Kinnair said a small COVID bonus would not be enough. ‘It’s very simple – we don’t want a one-off sweetener. Nursing needs a significant increase this year that we can build on next year too.’

DHSC defends pay rise and recruitment figures

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said more than one million NHS staff continued to benefit from multi-year pay deals agreed with trade unions, which had delivered a pay rise of over 12% for newly qualified nurses.

'Pay rises in the rest of the public sector will be paused this year due to the challenging economic environment, but we will continue to provide pay rises for NHS workers, on top of a £513 million investment in professional development and increased recruitment. That is with record numbers of doctors and 10,600 more nurses working in our NHS, and with nursing university applications up by over a third.'


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