News

Unions label 1% nurse pay rise suggestion as 'insulting'

RCN accuses government of being dangerously out of touch with nursing staff and public
chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street before heading to the Commons to deliver his budget

RCN accuses government of being dangerously out of touch with nursing staff and public

Health leaders have branded the government's suggestion of a 1% pay rise for nurses and other healthcare staff 'insulting' and 'pitiful'.

The government made the recommendation in its evidence to the independent NHS Pay Review Body (RB) for the 2021-22 pay round for staff on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts.

'The economic outlook for 2021-22 remains uncertain and pay awards must be both fair and affordable,' it said.

'In settling the Department for Health and Socal Care and NHS budget, the government assumed a headline pay award of 1% for NHS staff.

RCN accuses government of being dangerously out of touch with nursing staff and public

chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street before heading to Commons to deliver budget speech
Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street on budget day, 3 March
Picture: Alamy

Health leaders have branded the government's suggestion of a 1% pay rise for nurses and other healthcare staff 'insulting' and 'pitiful'.

The government made the recommendation in its evidence to the independent NHS Pay Review Body (RB) for the 2021-22 pay round for staff on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts.

'The economic outlook for 2021-22 remains uncertain and pay awards must be both fair and affordable,' it said.

'In settling the Department for Health and Socal Care and NHS budget, the government assumed a headline pay award of 1% for NHS staff. Anything higher would require reprioritisation.'

The written evidence was made public on 4 March – just one day after chancellor Rishi Sunak was accused of letting nurses down for remaining silent on public sector pay in the budget. Mr Sunak had been urged to use his 2021 budget to release funds for pay rises across the NHS.

Government warned to expect backlash from NHS staff

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair warned the government should expect a backlash from NHS workers.

'This is pitiful and bitterly disappointing,' she said. 'The government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers and the public.

'It is not a done deal but the government has revealed its hand for the first time.'

‘A 1% pay rise is the worst kind of insult the government could give health workers who've given everything over the past year’

Sara Gorton, head of health, Unison

Nurses now face a wait until the summer to find out what pay rise they can expect, with the RB, which advises the government on pay for the NHS’s AfC workforce, not expected to make recommendations until May.

Dame Donna Kinnair

Nurses would feel they were being punished

Professor Kinnair said the suggested rise would only amount to an extra £3.50 per week for an experienced nurse.

'Nobody would think that is fair in the middle of a pandemic and it will do nothing to prevent the exodus from nursing.

'Nursing staff would feel they are being punished and made to pay for the cost of the pandemic.

'It is a political decision to underfund and undervalue nursing staff.'

The RCN says the pay of an experienced nurse has fallen by 15.3% in real terms over the past ten years, and has called for a 12.5% pay rise when the current pay deal for AfC staff ends in April.

An RCN survey of nearly 42,000 members in May and June 2020, towards the end of the first wave, found 36% were thinking of leaving the profession, with 61% of those citing pay as a reason.

‘Staff will think this is some kind of joke’

Unison head of health Sara Gorton was also quick to criticise the government's recommendation to the RB.

'A 1% pay rise is the worst kind of insult the government could give health workers who've given their absolute everything over the past year.

'The public will be horrified. Staff will think it is some kind of joke.'


Further information

Government submission to the NHS pay review body


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs