Editorial

Unfair budget inflicts more pain on nurses

Anger, disbelief, outrage and dismay were all in evidence last week after chancellor George Osborne revealed that he would be inflicting five more years of pay restraint on England’s nurses. Much as we have become desensitised to such announcements, news that nursing staff and others across the public sector will only receive annual rises of 1% between now and 2020 still sent shockwaves through the profession.

Anger, disbelief, outrage and dismay were all in evidence last week after chancellor George Osborne revealed that he would be inflicting five more years of pay restraint on England’s nurses. Much as we have become desensitised to such announcements, news that nursing staff and others across the public sector will only receive annual rises of 1% between now and 2020 still sent shockwaves through the profession.

It is 19 years since a Conservative chancellor was supported by an overall majority of his own party’s MPs in the House of Commons. Back then, John Major’s government tried unsuccessfully to introduce local pay bargaining. That policy was ditched after a two-year campaign during which unions joined forces, RCN members relaxed the college’s rules on industrial action and NHS staff took to the streets in their thousands.

All nurses need to come together in revolt against this mean-spirited minister

Now is the time for the nation’s nurses to come together again in revolt against such a mean-spirited minister. Mr Osborne boasted in his budget speech that he was ‘giving the nation a pay rise’, yet the millions of people who keep the country’s hospitals, health centres, general practices and community health services running will be missing out. Today’s negligible inflation rate is unlikely to remain so low for long.

Union leaders reacted with predictable fury on behalf of their members, and will have to consider over the summer how they will respond. The NHS Pay Review Body – the future of which must surely be in doubt – will be issuing recommendations imminently on nurses’ unsocial hours payments. The government cannot expect nurses to respond positively to any changes that affect them negatively given its tight-fisted approach to their basic pay.

The nation’s financial woes were never the fault of NHS staff, yet this group of public servants is expected to continue paying the price for others’ mistakes. Mr Osborne needs to be left in no doubt that his policy is unfair, unethical and unacceptable.

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.

Jobs