Nurses need new pay deal not COVID bonus, PM told

Aside from applause and kind words, pay must be enough to attract and retain nurses, RCN and 13 other unions say in open letter to prime minister and chancellor

Picture shows bank notes
Picture: iStock

Nurses do not need a ‘COVID bonus payment’ but instead a new pay deal to support the profession in years to come, healthcare unions have told the government.

The RCN and 13 other unions have sent a letter to the prime minister and the chancellor urging them to open pay discussions early, with the aim of introducing a pay rise this year.

Pay discussions for NHS staff would usually take place in September, with agreed payments then coming into effect the following April.

While the letters highlight the work and commitment from NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, the unions say they are not calling for a ‘COVID bonus payment’, but rather a pay level that will help recruit and retain nurses.

Fair pay award would make health workers feel valued and help recruitment and retention

‘A fair pay award would not only make today’s health workers feel valued, it would also help to attract and retain the many more that will be needed if safely staffed and world-leading services are to be achieved,’ the letters state.

‘The applause and kind words were a short-term morale boost for many health workers, but now it is time to begin these pay discussions without delay.’

The letters do not specify what level of pay rise the unions are seeking. 

RCN national officer Hannah Reed, speaking for the 14 unions, said nursing and healthcare staff are working harder than ever.

Cross-government response does not reference call to enter early pay discussions

‘An earlier pay rise would go some way to showing that the government values all they do, not just this year but day in day out,’ she said.

The unions’ call come as the UK prepares to remember those who have died from COVID-19 and give thanks for the NHS on its 72nd birthday this weekend.

A cross-government response from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Treasury said they were proud of all health and care staff, but did not respond to the unions’ call to enter pay discussions early.

A spokesperson said: ‘The independent NHS Pay Review Body makes recommendations to government on pay increases and we will consider their advice when we receive it.’

View our COVID-19 resource centre

Find out more

Open letters to the prime minister and the chancellor

In others news

Register for free updates Register for free updates

We have made it easy for you to stay up to date with the latest developments in nursing, including relevant COVID-19 information.

Register with us for free – it takes less than a minute – and you'll receive news and updates straight to your inbox.

Register here today