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Unions condemn 'derisory' pay rise for nurses in England

Nurses in England to receive 1% pay rise
Janet Davies

Nurses in England are to receive a 1% pay rise again despite campaigns calling for an above-inflation increase

The RCN called the move a 'bitter blow to nursing staff' and Unison dismissed the increase as 'derisory'.

The government said it had accepted recommendations from the independent NHS Pay Review Body (RB) for the increase for the 2017-18 pay round.

The news follows the announcement on Tuesday that all NHS staff in Wales would be in line for a 1% pay rise from next month. The Scottish Government announced on Friday that all NHS staff on 22,000 and over would receive a 1% increase. A decision on pay in Northern Ireland is yet to be taken.

'Bitter blow'

Unions dismissed the below inflation increase, saying that NHS staff faced soaring fuel bills, rising food prices and increasing transport costs.

Nurses in England are to receive a 1% pay rise again despite campaigns calling for an above-inflation increase

The RCN called the move a 'bitter blow to nursing staff' and Unison dismissed the increase as 'derisory'.

The government said it had accepted recommendations from the independent NHS Pay Review Body (RB) for the increase for the 2017-18 pay round.

The news follows the announcement on Tuesday that all NHS staff in Wales would be in line for a 1% pay rise from next month. The Scottish Government announced on Friday that all NHS staff on £22,000 and over would receive a 1% increase. A decision on pay in Northern Ireland is yet to be taken.

'Bitter blow'

Unions dismissed the below inflation increase, saying that NHS staff faced soaring fuel bills, rising food prices and increasing transport costs.

Janet Davies
RCN general secretary Janet Davies. Picture: Barney Newman

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'This deals a bitter blow to nursing staff across England.

'The nursing profession is rightly held in high regard, but kind words don’t pay the bills.  

'With this announcement, the government will deter new people from joining the nursing profession at the very moment it is failing to retain staff and European colleagues in particular head for the door.

'It amounts to another real-terms cut to pay packets and the government is still refusing to keep nursing wages in line with inflation. Nursing pay has already been cut by 14% in real-terms – leaving too many struggling and turning to foodbanks and hardship grants.

'Ministers are ignoring the evidence that staff shortages put patient care and safety at risk. Tens of thousands of nursing jobs lie vacant today and the government missed the opportunity to stop that getting worse.'

Pay recommendation

The government decision followed a recommended 1% pay increase by the RB.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'The dedication and sheer hard work of our NHS staff is absolutely crucial to delivering world-class care for patients. We are pleased to announce that all NHS staff will receive a 1% pay increase.'

The review body reasoned: 'The evidence of serious affordability pressures, no significant nationwide recruitment and retention issues related to pay, as well as suggestions that reducing workload pressures could have a positive impact on staff morale, made us give serious consideration to the case for a nil pay award.

'However, there is a consensus among all evidence providers that the negative impact on staff morale of a pay award below 1% is not worth the relatively small financial benefit, even if this flowed through to increases in staffing levels as opposed to reducing deficits.'

Petitions and campaigns

The RCN ran the Scrap the Cap campaign ahead of the decision, while a petition started by nurse Danielle Tiplady attracted more than 100,000 signatures.

It triggered a debate at Wesminster during January, with MPs discussing the hardships faced by nurses in their constituencies.

Christina McAnea
Unison head of health Christina McAnea. Picture: Barney Newman

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: 'This deal amounts to less than £5 a week for most midwives, nurses, cleaners, paramedics, radiographers and other healthcare staff.

'It's a derisory amount in the face of soaring fuel bills, rising food prices and increasing transport costs.'

Jon Skewes
Royal College of Midwives director for policy, employment relations and
communications Jon Skewes. Picture: Barney Newman

Royal College of Midwives (RCM) director for policy, employment relations and communications Jon Skewes called the decision 'reckless in the extreme given the current shortage of staff'.

The RCM estimates midwifery pay has dropped by around £6,000 in real-terms since 2010.

Mr Skewes said: 'It is extremely disappointing that the government is continuing with it’s disastrous policy of pay restraint for a seventh year.'

Hunt 'complacent'

Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: 'This won’t staunch the recruitment and retention crisis currently affecting many healthcare professions, which is exacerbated by the ugly Brexit shadow hanging over the future of the estimated 55,000 EU nationals working for the NHS.

'Health secretary Jeremy Hunt often speaks warm words in support of NHS staff, but the reality is that he has been content to see this serious erosion in NHS pay continue – he has adopted this complacent attitude since taking up the health portfolio in 2012. '


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