Nurses pay down by £2,619 in five years, research shows

Nurses and emergency staff working over Christmas have seen their pay plummet by up to 9% over the past five years.

Nurses and other emergency staff working over Christmas have seen their pay plummet by up to 9% over the past five years.

Health unions’ dissatisfaction over pay has been ongoing. Two years ago today,
Unite members staged a Dickensian protest over pay outside Downing Street, casting health
secretary Jeremy Hunt as Scrooge. Picture: UNITE Union

Research by the TUC shines a spotlight on how nurses, police, firefighters and ambulance drivers have experienced real-term decreases in pay.

Midwives has suffered the biggest loss in pay with their wages falling by £3,367 (8.8%) against inflation.

Nurses’ pay is down by £2,619 (or 8.5%) compared with 2011.

Working on Christmas

The TUC estimates that around 900,000 people in the UK work on Christmas Day and nearly 90,000 of those are nurses. Last year thousands of emergency workers helped people affected by flooding.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: ‘For most of us, Christmas is a well-earned break from the daily grind.

‘But nearly a million people will be working on Christmas Day this year.

‘Scrooge-like’ pay cap

‘Many of those keeping our streets safe and providing emergency care have seen their pay fall sharply over the past five years.’

She added: ‘Ministers should show some seasonal goodwill and end the real-terms pay cuts.

‘The government’s Scrooge-like public sector pay cap has to go, to ensure that wages at least keep up with prices.’


The TUC research also shows how police constables have seen a 6.3% fall in pay or a loss of £1,319 over the past five years. 

Firefighters have had their wages drop by 7.9% or £3,223, and ambulance drivers by 7% or £2,200.

The Royal College of Nursing has been campaigning to scrap the 1% pay cap on NHS wages that have been in place since 2010.

‘Difficult decisions’

It says the government must award nurses an above-inflation pay award and return to a UK-wide pay rate in the NHS.

Commenting on the TUC study, a Treasury spokeperson said: ‘The government has made difficult decisions on public sector pay to maintain fiscal discipline and protect public sector jobs.

‘The OBR has forecast that current pay policy will protect approximately 200,000 jobs across the UK.’

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