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Pay supplements touted for hard-to-recruit NHS nursing posts

Proposed use of premiums worth up to 30% of salary dismissed by RCN as ‘sticking plaster’
Picture shows two piles of coins

Proposed use of premiums worth up to 30% of salary dismissed by RCN as sticking plaster for national shortages

Pay supplements worth up to 30% of basic salary could be used to entice nurses to hard-to-recruit NHS nursing posts in England, a report suggests.

The independent NHS Pay Review Body report suggests that the use of pay supplements known as recruitment and retention premia (RRP ) could be used by employers who are finding it difficult to recruit and retain staff at the normal salary rate in certain specialties or locations.

A useful mechanism to attract nurses into shortage areas

However,

Proposed use of premiums worth up to 30% of salary dismissed by RCN as ‘sticking plaster’ for national shortages

Picture shows two piles of coins
Picture: iStock

Pay supplements worth up to 30% of basic salary could be used to entice nurses to hard-to-recruit NHS nursing posts in England, a report suggests.

The independent NHS Pay Review Body report suggests that the use of pay supplements – known as recruitment and retention premia (RRP) – could be used by employers who are finding it difficult to recruit and retain staff at the normal salary rate in certain specialties or locations.

‘A useful mechanism to attract nurses into shortage areas’

However, the RCN has warned that pay supplements would merely be a ‘sticking plaster remedy’ and that the issue would be better solved by a meaningful pay rise.

The option of RRPs, funded by employers, is built into the Agenda for Change contract. They can be short or long-term and are worth up to 30% of a basic salary.

The report, which looked into how the implementation of the current NHS pay deal was working, said: ‘RRPs could be a useful mechanism to attract nurses into shortage areas by geography or specialty after graduation or to encourage returners into shortage areas, providing that it can be shown that this would add to the total number of nurses rather than draw from one stretched provider to another.’

The pay review body, which advises on the pay of NHS staff, says that while RRPs could be ‘useful’ their use is limited as trusts are reluctant to fund them.

Trust concerned over competition for staff

It says trusts are also concerned that their use can create local competition for staff, a feeling echoed by RCN national officer Hannah Reed.

‘A national RRP would be a short-term solution to a more profound problem,’ she said. ‘While there are some areas of the country or particular specialties facing particular shortages, there is a general crisis in the recruitment and retention of nursing staff. 

‘Targeted RRPs will not solve this crisis and will instead lead to unintended consequences by creating damaging competition for staff.’

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: ‘The most effective use of funding right now would be an early and significant pay rise staff deserve and which would make a huge difference to staffing levels.’


Find out more

NHS Pay Review Body Report 2020

NHS Employers: recruitment and retention premia


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