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RCN calls for politicians to end pay cap as nurses resort to hardship grants

Eight nurses a day seek urgent help to cope with the rising cost of living and one-in-four callers receive hardship grants according to the RCN which has released its manifesto for politicians in advance of the general election. 

Eight nurses a day seek urgent help to cope with the rising cost of living and one-in-four callers receive hardship grants according to the RCN which has released its manifesto for politicians in advance of the general election.


The RCN report that one in four callers to its support line
go on to receive hardship grants.  Picture: iStock

The pledges include protecting the right of European Union staff to remain in the UK after Brexit and an end to the 1% pay cap.

The RCN said one in four callers to its advice line who go on to receive hardship grants - worth around £450 - were in full-time work.

Financial support

There were 510 calls seeking financial support over the 65 working days in the October to December 2016 period. 

The RCN represents almost half a million nurses in the UK and has called on party leaders to ‘put patients before politics’ with accurate and costed pledges on the NHS.

General secretary Janet Davies said: ‘The last thing public services need are sums that do not add up and irresponsible politicians offering "cheques in the post".

‘Slogans on buses and uncosted wish lists let patients down and politicians must avoid the temptation.’

Earlier this week the shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was unable to explain how the Labour Party would fund a commitment to put 10,000 more police on the UK’s streets.

Challenged over foodbanks

Meanwhile on Sunday prime minister Theresa May was challenged on the BBC1 Andrew Marr Show over nurses having to resort to foodbanks.

Ms Davies commented: ‘At the weekend, Theresa May failed to acknowledge that nursing staff are forced to use foodbanks. 

‘But on her watch, eight nurses every single day are seeking urgent help just to get by. Even those in full-time work can’t make ends meet. 

‘Nurses should not have to fund the NHS deficit from their own pay packets.

‘After the election, for the sake of patient safety, the government must scrap the pay cap and fill the tens of thousands of vacant jobs.’

The Nursing Manifesto:

  • To commit to safe levels of staff in the NHS to guarantee safe patient care and fill the estimated 24,000 nursing vacancies.
  • Greater appreciation of the nursing workforce and a pledge to increase nursing pay levels in line with inflation following a real-terms cut of 14% since 2010. RCN analysis shows on average nurse salaries would be £3,000 to £4,000 higher if government pay awards had risen with inflation. 
  • More investment in health and care services, especially in community care and public health.
  • The right to remain for European Economic Area nationals working in health and care.
  • An end to the practice of down-banding and substitution, and provide sustained and strategic investment in education and training for the workforce. 

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