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Nurse pay overhaul needed, says re-elected Conservative MP

Maria Caulfield says 1% pay cap is not the main issue.
Maria Caulfield

Nurses should be able to expect the same pay for doing the same job anywhere in the country, a re-elected nurse MP has said.

Conservative MP Maria Caulfield called for pay parity in an exclusive interview with Nursing Standard after defending her Lewes seat in last week's general election for the first time since being elected in 2015.

The cancer nurse also suggested a narrowing of pay bands so that nurses can reach the top of their scale more quickly.

Ms Caulfield, who still covers bank shifts at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, intends to use her NHS experience to influence the reinstated health secretary Jeremy Hunt on nursing issues.

Her comments come ahead of the RCN's summer of protest over the governments continued pay restraints, which the college estimates has cost nurses

Nurses should be able to expect the same pay for doing the same job anywhere in the country, a re-elected nurse MP has said.


Nurse and Conservative MP Maria Caulfield

Conservative MP Maria Caulfield called for pay parity in an exclusive interview with Nursing Standard after defending her Lewes seat in last week's general election for the first time since being elected in 2015.

The cancer nurse also suggested a narrowing of pay bands so that nurses can reach the top of their scale more quickly.

Ms Caulfield, who still covers bank shifts at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, intends to use her NHS experience to influence the reinstated health secretary Jeremy Hunt on nursing issues.

Her comments come ahead of the RCN's summer of protest over the government’s continued pay restraints, which the college estimates has cost nurses £3,000 a year in real terms.

Pay structure

'I was a nurse, and experienced the pay cap for a number of years, so I do know pay is an issue, but it's much bigger than just the cap,' Ms Caulfield said. 'I would want to discuss pay structure with the RCN.'

There are currently nine different stages in Band 6 and 7, ranging from £26,565 to £35,577, and £31,697 to £41,787, respectively.

‘If you are doing the job you should be paid what it is worth and nothing less,’ said Ms Caulfield.

She also wants to see more continuity between jobs, so nurse practitioners and ward sisters, for example, can expect to receive the same pay across the board. The MP believes this will help with staff retention.

‘If we're being serious about nurses being more qualified, working hard and studying more, they need to know they will be rewarded financially. At the moment you can go from one trust to another and get paid completely differently for the same job. That can't be right,' she said.

'Growing anomalies'

In its evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body for 2017-18, the RCN expressed concern about 'large and growing anomalies' between pay points across the UK due to different approaches taken by the four countries.

Ms Caulfield added that she would like a wider review of NHS pay, saying staff in administrative or more junior managerial roles are 'often being paid almost double what a nurse responsible for people's lives gets'.

'So it's not about money in the system, it's about what's being done with it,' she added.

Difficult area

Ms Caulfield said the 1% pay cap was a 'difficult one' because money was not available to give a pay rise across the board.

'I understand why it's there, but that's why we need to look at the pay structure, because it is the fundamental issue. If we gave nurses a 2% raise, that wouldn't really deal with the crux of the problem,' she said.

Ms Caulfield is one of five nurses in the new parliament.

The MP said she lobbied against scrapping the nursing student bursaries and welcomed the introduction of nursing associates and apprenticeships, believing these routes into nursing to be more effective than tuition fee-based degrees.


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