News

Health department blasted over ‘misleading’ chart on nurses’ pay

Scathing condemnation by head of UK Statistics Authority says health department chart exaggerates previous pay rises
Health secretary Steve Barclay, whose department’s chart was criticised by the UK Statistics Authority

Scathing condemnation by head of UK Statistics Authority says health department chart exaggerates previous pay rises

Health bosses have been accused of being ‘deliberately misleading’ in a graph that detailed pay increases for nurses.

Chair of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) Sir Robert Chote said the graph, tweeted by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on 10 November, ‘risks damaging public confidence in the presentation of official statistics’ and ‘exaggerates’ previous pay rises.

Sir Robert was responding to Labour’s shadow health minister

Scathing condemnation by head of UK Statistics Authority says health department chart exaggerates previous pay rises

Health secretary Steve Barclay, whose department’s chart was criticised by the UK Statistics Authority
Health secretary Steve Barclay, whose department’s chart was criticised by the UK Statistics Authority Picture: Alamy

Health bosses have been accused of being ‘deliberately misleading’ in a graph that detailed pay increases for nurses.

Chair of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) Sir Robert Chote said the graph, tweeted by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on 10 November, ‘risks damaging public confidence in the presentation of official statistics’ and ‘exaggerates’ previous pay rises.

Sir Robert was responding to Labour’s shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne, who wrote to the UKSA saying the graph did not take into account the rate of inflation and was ‘deliberately misleading’.

Mr Gwynne wrote: ‘With inflation at 11.1%, it is disingenuous to claim that nurses been awarded a pay rise, when in fact the average pay of a nurse has fallen by 8% since 2010.’

He suggested the graph, which depicted nurses’ pay from 2020-21 to 2022-23, had also been designed to make pay increases look larger as it did not start at £0.

Sir Robert said that while the presentation of data without taking into account inflation was not misleading, the government could have linked to the source of that data. But he agreed that the design of the graph was a ‘poor and misleading representation’ of the data.

‘Beginning the y-axis at around £20,000 exaggerates the proportionate increase in pay over the period,’ Sir Robert wrote.

‘In addition, the freehand way in which the lines appear to have been drawn suggests a bigger relative increase in pay for newly qualified nurses and a bigger pay premium for “a few years’ experience” than the underlying data justify.’

Amended chart in letter by UK Statistics Authority chair Sir Robert Chote
Amended chart in letter by UK Statistics Authority chair Sir Robert Chote

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the ‘damning’ letter from Sir Robert warranted an official response from health and social care secretary Steve Barclay.

‘Sir Robert Chote has used the strongest terms here to cut through the government’s spin. Ministers have been found out and need to come clean,’ she said.

‘The government’s figures did not fool nursing staff who are sharing very difficult stories of personal financial hardship.’

A DHSC spokesperson insisted the figures were accurate but accepted the data could have been presented more clearly, adding: ‘We are committed to using data accurately and transparently.’


Find out more

In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs