COVID-19: health secretary draws fire for refusing to commit to future nurse pay rise

Nursing organisations say wage hike would ‘show who we really value’

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock speaking at a press briefing. Picture: BBC

Upcoming pay negotiations will test if the government values nurses as much as it claims, nursing groups have said.

They spoke out following health and social care secretary Matt Hancock’s comments during a Downing Street press conference on 15 May, in which he refused to commit to a pay rise for nurses after the COVID-19 pandemic had passed.

Praise for nurses – but no indication of future pay rise

While Mr Hancock said he agreed that nursing was a highly skilled profession and deserved decent pay, he stopped short of promising future pay awards.

‘We put up nurses’ pay last month,’ he said, ‘and last year we had the biggest rise in pay, especially for nurses starting their career.

‘I think one of the things that the crisis has shown is just how much the nation values our staff across the health and care system, including nurses.’

Responding to Mr Hancock’s comments, Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: ‘The health secretary’s right to acknowledge the value of nurses and other healthcare staff, and how they deserve decent pay.

‘When pay talks start in the coming months, ministers should reflect this – as well as ensuring ​they’re paid properly for every hour they work.’

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair argued that the public favoured a pay increase for nurses.

‘The government should listen to the support shown by the public to our nursing staff, and show them the same respect when it comes to their pay,’ she said.

‘NHS staff and the public need to stand together’

Campaigning group Nurses United said some nurses had lost the equivalent of a fifth of their pay, in real terms, when measured against inflation over the past decade.

Nurses United lead organiser Anthony Johnson said: ‘NHS staff and the public need to stand together against this and show who we really value.’

In other 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