UK government must foot the bill for scrapping the cap or NHS Wales' jobs and services will suffer
The £50 million cost of providing pay rises for health professionals in Wales must be covered by the UK government, the country’s secretary for health insists
Cabinet secretary for health Vaughan Gething said if NHS Wales was left to foot the bill it would put jobs and services at risk.
Mr Gething told nurses attending the All Wales Nurse Staffing Conference in Cardiff last week (Thursday 28): ‘We have called, repeatedly, on the UK government to end the cap on public sector pay and give workers across the UK a much-deserved pay rise.'
The 1% cap on wage increases has been in place across the UK since 2010 and the RCN claims this has led to a 14% real terms loss of earnings for nurses.
Pay and the cap
Mr Gething added: ‘Pay and the cap is an issue for those already in the profession and those considering a career in nursing.
‘Any lifting of the cap must be funded by the UK government, doing so ourselves would mean £50 million coming out of the budget for NHS Wales alone.
‘This would threaten thousands of jobs and affect the services we value and rely on.’
Mr Gething said he has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt on two occasions calling for an end to the cap, adding 'he has not given me the courtesy of a response thus far'.
The event Mr Gething spoke at was the first of its kind designed to update nurses on progress made since the introduction of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act in March 2016.
It requires health boards to ensure they ‘are providing sufficient nurses to allow time to care for patients sensitively’, and currently applies only to adult acute and surgical inpatient wards.
Mr Gething added: ‘Wales is the first country in Europe to legislate on nurse staffing levels.
‘We took the lead, empowering nurses and ensuring the resources are in place to care sensitively for patients.
‘The number of nurses working in NHS Wales continues to increase year on year. There are more nurses working here in our NHS than ever before; something to be celebrated.’
He recognised ‘challenges around the recruitment of nurses in primary and secondary care’ and said the This is Wales: Train Work Live website created to support the Welsh Government campaign to attract more staff, had so far received 76,000 visits.
Nursing Standard has approached the Department of Health for a response to Mr Gething’s comments.
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