Scrap the cap: nurse pay set for another Parliament vote

The 1% pay cap is set to be lifted for police and prison officers, prompting speculation that nurses’ pay may increase too.

The 1% pay cap is set to be lifted for police and prison officers, prompting speculation that nurses’ pay may increase too.

Theresa May should 'bite the bullet' and scrap the gap, says Janet Davies. Picture: David Gee

The treasury has accepted a recommendation from the police and prison officer independent pay review bodies to increase pay above the 1% cap, which could pave the way for wage increases elsewhere in the public sector.

The police will receive a 1% pay rise plus a one-off 1% bonus, while prison officers will receive a 1.7% pay rise. Both pay increases will be for this year.

Tomorrow, the Labour Party will table a debate calling for the whole of the public sector – including nurses – to receive a pay rise above 1%.

Vote comments

Labour shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has urged Conservative MPs to vote in favour of lifting the cap during a non-binding opposition day debate, following on from Prime Minister’s Questions at 12pm.

He told Sky News: ‘We keep getting briefings in newspapers and suggestions that the government is sympathetic and wants to do something, and “oh, it's terrible and we accept that but let's see where we get to”.’

The government enforced a two-year pay freeze on nurses in 2010, followed by 1%, below-inflation rises for the past five years. The inflation rate went up this month from 2.7% to 2.9%.

The RCN has estimated this has cost nurses a real-terms pay cut of 14%.

Taking action

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: “This announcement puts another nail in the coffin of the public sector pay cap but it must be scrapped in full. Today’s vague signals are not enough.  

“Our campaign will not cease until there is concrete proof that the cap has been lifted explicitly for next year’s discussions on nurse and NHS pay.

“The government has made a mockery of the independence of the Pay Review Body for too long.    

“Tomorrow’s vote in the Commons is an opportunity for the government to categorically state that the cap has been lifted for nursing and other NHS staff.

“Ministers are holding nurses’ pay down and leaving professionals over £3,000 a year worse off – driving them out of health services and putting patient care at risk.”

Staff shortage

Health unions have warned the pay cap has contributed to the shortage of nurses in the UK.

Analysis by the RCN puts the vacancy rate at 40,000 in England alone.

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