Comment

Fair pay demands are not about COVID rewards, but long-overdue recognition

The government continues to ignore calls for a pay rise, but we won’t give up, says RCN chief

While the government continues to ignore calls for a pay rise, the RCN will not give up

This year, more so than ever before, nursing staff have gone above and beyond anything they would have expected to face when they started their careers.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, nursing staff across the health sector have been working around the clock caring for patients and saving lives.

Nurses have put their health on the line during the pandemic

Not only have they battled the virus, they had to fight to get the personal protective equipment they needed to keep themselves and their patients safe.

This was the case in hospitals, in care homes

While the government continues to ignore calls for a pay rise, the RCN will not give up

Chancellor Rishi Sunak Picture: PA

This year, more so than ever before, nursing staff have gone above and beyond anything they would have expected to face when they started their careers.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, nursing staff across the health sector have been working around the clock caring for patients and saving lives.

Nurses have put their health on the line during the pandemic

Not only have they battled the virus, they had to fight to get the personal protective equipment they needed to keep themselves and their patients safe.

This was the case in hospitals, in care homes and across social care.

It has taken a huge toll on the nursing workforce, with many saying they are concerned about not only their own welfare but also that of their colleagues.

Improved pay would make nurses feel more valued

But the pay demands we are making are not about rewarding us after the pandemic. This is what nursing has long deserved and it should not have taken a pandemic to make people see the vital work we do.

When asked in an RCN survey, nearly three quarters (73%) of our members said improved pay would make them feel more valued.

After coming out every week to applaud nurses’ efforts, the chancellor Rishi Sunak had the opportunity in the recent spending review to do more than just spend two minutes clapping.

‘The pay demands we are making are not about rewarding us after the pandemic. This is what nursing has long deserved and it should not have taken a pandemic to make people see the vital work we do’

He had a chance to give nursing staff the pay that recognises not only their efforts during the ongoing pandemic, but also their skills and dedication.

Despite the warm words, he fell at the first hurdle and failed to deliver – leaving nursing staff worse off than they were ten years ago.

The very next day, newly released figures showed the NHS in England alone would enter winter with more than 36,000 nurse vacancies.

Demands for fair pay are growing – and we have the public’s support

There are thousands more nurse vacancies across the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and more in social care.

With a recent poll from Ipsos MORI putting nurses at the top of the most trusted professions, ministers now need to listen and deliver on nursing pay.

Donna Kinnair: ‘We will not stop campaigning until a fair pay rise is delivered’

More than 15,000 of our members – and supportive members of the public – emailed their MP to ask them to tell the chancellor to commit to a fully-funded pay award for nursing staff.

MPs have heard the strength of feeling behind this request but the chancellor has still not delivered. We have now launched a petition to demand an immediate and significant pay rise for nursing staff.

Back in the summer we asked prime minister Boris Johnson to start talking to us about a fair pay rise.

All Mr Johnson has said is that nurses have already had a pay rise.

The government is not listening, but we will not be silent

In addition, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has proudly told the nation how many more nurses the government has recruited in the past year.

But none of this reflects the reality for nursing staff.

When we asked RCN members, three quarters of respondents said that staffing levels had stayed the same or worsened during the pandemic.

Ministers cannot continue to close their ears to the evidence and the strength of feeling for a fair pay rise for nursing staff and we will not stop campaigning until it is delivered.

By doing this, we will not only keep the incredible, skilled and dedicated nursing workforce we already have but, importantly, attract a future workforce able to deliver care in a 21st century health and care system.



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RCN petition on pay

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