Focus is now on review body to start restoring nurses’ pay

It would have been great if the chancellor, Philip Hammond, had stood up in the House of Commons and announced during his budget a bumper, above-inflation pay award for nursing staff.

Of course he did not, but that does not mean he didn’t do the right thing.

Mr Hammond said he would wait to hear from the NHS Pay Review Body (RB), which will report in the new year. This is the correct approach, as the RB has always offered the fairest way for nurses to receive the best possible outcome.

A decade of interference

Over the past decade, Mr Hammond’s predecessors – on both sides of the political divide – have interfered with the RB by reaching deals outside the process, or imposing a cap on rises that has limited its options significantly.

The chancellor also promised to find the money required should the RB recommend an award above the 1% rise that had already been built into employers’ budgets for 2018/19.

This is only right, as otherwise trusts, health boards and the like would have to fund staff pay rises from money previously set aside to spend on patient care.

The focus now turns to the RB itself, which has long accused governments of failing to respect its independence. It has an opportunity over the winter months to start the process of restoring NHS pay to pre-2008 levels. Nurses deserve and expect nothing else.