Scrap the Cap an indisputable success, but the challenge isn’t over yet

The coming year holds the prospect of a meaningful pay rise for nurses, but an attempt to link it to improvements in productivity suggests more battles lie ahead

What does 2018 hold in store for you? If you work in the NHS there is the prospect of a pay rise worth more than 1% for the first time since 2010, thanks to the remarkable impact of the Scrap the Cap campaign.

Forcing the government to climb down and accept that suppressing nurses’ pay is no longer sustainable was an outstanding achievement, made possible by a mass movement involving thousands of NHS staff across the UK.

As our review of the year recalls, a turning point was Theresa May’s appearance on the BBC programme Question Time during the general election campaign. It is fair to assume that her patronising response to a nurse who asked why her take-home pay was worth less than it was eight years previously – ‘there’s no magic money tree’ – cost her thousands of votes.

Inflation safeguards

The challenge for 2018 is to keep the heat on the prime minister and chancellor so that they start the process of restoring nurses’ pay levels to where they were before the financial crisis erupted ten years ago.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked the NHS Pay Review Body to recommend a multi-year agreement, but this will only be acceptable if safeguards are put in place to revisit such a settlement should inflation climb sharply.

Mr Hunt is also demanding improvements in nurses’ productivity. I wish him the best of luck with that – he’s going to need it. Happy New Year.

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