Scrap the cap: 'summer of protest has only just started'

RCN says summer of protest ‘has only just started’, after government insisted the 1% cap on nurse pay will remain.
Scrap the Cap

RCN says summer of protest ‘has only just started’, after government insisted the 1% cap on nurse pay will remain

Scrap the Cap
Nurses gathered outside the Department of Health last week to demand that the government
scrap the cap. Picture: Barney Newman

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said the college won’t stop until it receives written confirmation from prime minister Theresa May that the cap will be scrapped.

The chief secretary to the treasury said on Wednesday that the pay cap will remain in place because it is the ‘responsible thing to do’.

Speaking during a Commons debate on public sector pay, Conservative minister Liz Truss said maintaining the pay cap would ensure recruitment and retention was balanced with sustainability.

Economic disaster or reality?

Many Conservative MPs echoed her comments, including former chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who said lifting the cap could lead to 'economic disaster'.

But Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Sir Vince Cable said raising pay for public sector workers would reflect ‘economic reality’.

The debate followed Prime Minister’s Questions, where Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue of NHS staff pay.

Ms May responded: ‘People may not realise that there is not only the overall public sector pay increase, but, for many nurses, increments or progression pay as well. A typical band 5 nurse will receive 3.8% over and above the 1%.’

However, government figures released last week show median pay for nurses fell by almost £1 an hour between 2010 and 2015.

Cap is 'unsustainable'

Ms Davies said: ‘Our summer of protest has only just started and nurses are taking to the streets to stand up for safe patient care and the profession they love.

‘In the first two weeks of the campaign, we have staged 50 events and earned public and cross-party political backing.

‘Liz Truss said she is listening to the Pay Review Body, but she must recall that they said the cap is unsustainable. It stands in the way of filling the 40,000 nurse posts that are vacant in England alone.

‘Theresa May must scrap the 1% pay cap. We won’t stop until we have that in writing.’

As the RCN’s campaign got under way, almost 5,000 nurses contacted their local MPs to lobby for their support, and nurses staged demonstrations outside Department of Health buildings in London and Birmingham.

‘Nurses don’t grow on trees’

At another event on Wednesday, which was not part of the RCN campaign, nurses delivered a ‘magic money tree’ to the department in Whitehall, in reference to Ms May’s comments during the general election campaign.

Nurses at the demonstration chanted: ‘Nurses don’t grow on trees, have a heart, stop the freeze’ and ‘Theresa found her money tree, not for nurses, the DUP’.

Helen Stanford, a community nurse in south London who was at the demonstration, said she often considered leaving the profession. ‘Long term, I can’t see myself being a nurse if things continue this way,’ she said. ‘No one goes into nursing for the money, but we should earn a fair wage and be able to cover the cost of living.’

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