Scrap the cap or jeopardise patient safety

Nurses undoubtedly deserve a better pay deal, but an end to the government’s pay cap is also in the best interests of patients, writes editor Graham Scott

After the general election, for the sake of patient safety, the government must scrap the cap on nurses’ pay and help to fill the 40,000 vacant jobs.

These are not my words, but those of RCN general secretary Janet Davies, and summarise the college’s key message to the political parties in the run-up to polling day on 8 June.

Safety first

The most important part of this statement comes at the start: ‘for the sake of patient safety’.

Of course nursing staff deserve a decent pay settlement just to keep pace with the cost of living, and out of respect for their professionalism and dedication. They also deserve to work in adequately staffed teams so that they have a chance of coping with their workloads and avoiding burnout.

But most of all, a pay rise and boost to staffing levels are in the interest of patients’ safety, experience and outcomes.

Engage the public

In this context, the results of an RCN membership poll were revealed at this year’s RCN congress. They suggest there is a strong appetite for some form of industrial action in pursuit of a better deal for the nation’s nurses and healthcare support workers, which in turn will benefit patients and their families.

Over the coming months, barring a shock election result, nurses will take part in a summer of protests. For this to succeed, it will be vital to engage all RCN members and the public in the campaign, as the whole nation stands to benefit.

Read more

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.