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Concerns of NHS staff are 'falling on deaf ears', says Janet Davies

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said comments by health minister Alistair Burt on NHS staff morale bear 'little relation' to reality

Health minister Alistair Burt has insisted there is ‘no evidence’ that the pay freeze has affected staff morale in the NHS, but RCN general secretary Janet Davies has hit back saying the claim bears ‘little relation’ to reality.

Mr Burt, the Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire, gave his verdict in response to a written parliamentary question from Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley.

Ms Haigh asked what assessment health secretary Jeremy Hunt has made ‘of the effect of the public sector pay freeze on NHS staff morale, and whether he plans to survey NHS staff on that matter’.

Mr Burt replied that the approach to pay over the past five years, which included a two-year freeze between 2011 and 2013, had helped protect jobs and maintain services. 

‘There is no evidence that the pay freeze affected staff morale,’ he said.

Ms Davies said staff are repeatedly making it clear they feel undervalued ‘but it would appear that this is falling on deaf ears’.

Nurses’ low morale was highlighted in a pay consultation survey conducted by the RCN last year, in which 96% of respondents said they felt ‘undervalued’ and ‘underappreciated’, with two thirds saying the government’s decision on pay had made them think seriously about leaving the NHS.

The RCN general secretary also pointed to the findings of a 2014 NHS staff survey which found that 59% of respondents feel that their employer does not value their work.

She said: 'The government must start taking the concerns of NHS staff seriously by valuing the important work they are doing and giving them a decent wage.  

‘Five years of pay freezes would affect anyone’s morale and to ignore this risks further alienating the very people who are essential to the NHS’s future and good quality patient care.’

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