Public backs a pay rise for nurses, survey shows

Most people believe that the government can afford to pay nurses more, according to a survey by the RCN. 

The college commissioned the review after seeing nurses’ pay fall ‘further and further behind’ the cost of living since 2010.

The government has said it will not fund NHS pay rises that add more than 1% a year to the total workforce wage bill until 2020. 

More than 2,000 people took part in the online study, which found that 57% of respondents feel the country can afford to pay nurses more.

Only 22% of respondents believe claims there is not enough money to fund a wage rise, and nearly half (46%) say they would be willing to pay extra in income tax if this money were to go directly to nurses’ salaries.

Just 13% agree that wages reflect the level of skills needed for the job, while 76% believe that nurses are paid too little.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘Restraining pay while demand increases is a false economy, making it harder for the NHS to hold onto the staff it needs, and increasing the expensive reliance on temporary staff.

‘Nursing staff will be pleased and touched by the public’s overwhelming support and confidence in them, and their vital work.

‘They would be equally pleased to see the government share the public’s gratitude and appreciation by rethinking its stance on nursing pay.’ 

The RCN has also said it is concerned about an ‘increasing’ number of NHS trusts asking nurses to volunteer to work overtime at basic rates of pay. 

At least three employers in England have adopted this approach to cut agency staff spending, the RCN said, and it added this has happened without consultation with trade unions. 

RCN head of employment Josie Irwin said: ‘We’re appalled trusts are exploiting the good nature of nurses in this way.’