New government faces fresh threats of nursing pay protests

'The government has one last chance to scrap the cap,' RCN general secretary Janet Davies has warned regarding nurses' pay, promising 'a summer-long protest' if it does not do so.

The new government has 'one last chance' to scrap its 1% pay cap, the RCN warned as Britain woke up to news of a hung parliament following the general election.

A protest rally in London in March. Picture: Barney Newman

Later this month the RCN will launch 'a summer-long protest' calling on government to end the pay cap that it says is leaving nurses at least £3,000 a year worse off than in 2010.

Following the surprise election results, prime minister Theresa May is expected to go to Buckingham Palace today to seek permission from the Queen to form a Conservative minority government.

Plans for healthcare and other key issues such as Brexit have been left in turmoil by the UK's new political situation.

Short of staff

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'Hospitals, clinics and communities across the country are short of the nursing staff they need to provide safe care.

'They are being driven out of the NHS by levels of pay that are as damaging to patient care standards as they are to a nurse’s family life.'

Ms Davies added that the government’s pay cap 'did nothing' to help fill 40,000 vacant nurse jobs in England alone.

She said: 'Later this month, the RCN will launch a summer-long protest, calling on the government to scrap the 1% pay cap.

One last chance

'It is simple: a pay rise that is deliberately held below inflation is in fact a pay cut.

'The cap, after years of pay freezes, means that nursing staff are 14% and at least £3,000 a year worse off than they were in 2010 – this summer, the government has one last chance to scrap the cap.'

Among the new MPs taking up a seat in parliament is Labour's Eleanor Smith, a theatre nurse who was the first black president of trade union Unison in 2011. She won the Wolverhampton South seat.

Ms Smith took over from Rob Marris, who stood down, and increased the Labour majority from 801 to 2,185.

Nurse MPs

The seat had been expected to swing in favour of the Conservatives.

Ms Smith joins three returning Conservative MPs, former nurses Nadine Dorries, Anne Milton and Maria Caulfield.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt retained his seat in South West Surrey, despite attempts by the National Health Action Party to oust him.

Get Surrey reported him saying in his victory speech: 'Even though the result wasn't very close, it felt a more personal campaign because I had a party who is really campaigning on my record as health secretary.'

Congress resolution

He said there had been 'a lot of falsehoods' about the reasons for the challenges facing the NHS and about his and the Conservative Party's motives in respect of the NHS.

It is not yet clear if he will retain his cabinet position.

At RCN congress in Liverpool last month, members resolved to protest the continuing pay cap and Ms Davies promised a ‘summer of discontent’ with a ballot for industrial action.

Labour and the Liberal Democrat parties promised to lift the pay cap, but during the campaign the prime minister said there was not a ‘magic money tree’.

Younger voters seen as key

The surprise overall election result went against all opinion poll predictions, with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party gaining 29 seats and the Conservatives losing 12 seats.

The Scottish Nationalist Party lost 21 seats, in a shock series of results that saw the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats make gains in Scotland.

In Wales, the tide turned firmly in favour of Labour, with the party gaining three seats to the detriment of the Tories.

The Conservatives are expected to form a minority government with the support of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party.

A huge turnout of 18-25 year olds was seen as a key feature in the general election result.


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