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Readers panel: Should nurses ditch the Pay Review Body and negotiate directly with the government?

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has instructed the NHS Pay Review Body (RB) to recommend a rise of 1% to take effect on 1 April 2017. He made it clear that similar edicts will be issued every year until 2020. In a recent editorial, Nursing Standard editor Graham Scott said that if things go on as they are ‘it is hard to believe nurses would not be able to drive a harder bargain by ditching the RB and negotiating directly with the government’.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has instructed the NHS Pay Review Body (RB) to recommend a rise of 1% to take effect on 1 April 2017. He made it clear that similar edicts will be issued every year until 2020. In a recent editorial, Nursing Standard editor Graham Scott said that if things go on as they are ‘it is hard to believe nurses would not be able to drive a harder bargain by ditching the RB and negotiating directly with the government’.


Jane Scullion (@JaneScullion), respiratory nurse consultant, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester
Jane Scullion
Jane Scullion

At least the review body keeps the subject of nurses’ pay on the agenda however ineffective it may appear to be. If nurses ditch it and negotiate directly it could be even worse. Nurses are not by nature militant, with few interested in the advancement of the profession.

Our unions have not successfully fought our corner on pay and conditions over the last few decades. Perhaps it is better the devil you know.


Drew Payne (@drew_london), community staff nurse, nurse
Drew Payne
Drew Payne

I want a pay rise. I am tired of my wages decreasing, of being undervalued, of watching colleagues leaving the NHS for better pay. I am tired of nursing turning into an unattractive profession.

The Pay Review Body now rubber stamps Jeremy Hunt’s instructions – but is ditching it the way forward? The government has proved an unwilling negotiator. The junior doctors had to strike. Are we prepared to strike for a pay rise?

The Pay Review Body isn’t working – but the alternative is very hard negotiating and even striking. I don’t know what is better.


Liz Charalambous (@lizcharalambou), staff nurse, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Liz Charalambous
Liz Charalambous

The NHS Pay Review Body appears to be part of the establishment whereas unions have been progressively emasculated. Nursing is traditionally an underpaid occupation and the withdrawal of bursaries and changes to the pension scheme are, in my view, part of the Tory plan to dismantle the NHS.

The cynic in me says that it won’t matter who drives pay negotiations. I am becoming increasingly convinced that this government wants to permanently wind down the NHS.


Rachel Kent, mental health nurse, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, London
Rachel Kent
Rachel Kent

Unfortunately, our governments have a history of ignoring the advisory bodies they assemble, unless the ‘independent findings’ mirror their own position. If an advisory body is a gimmick then its removal will return responsibility to people to make their own case to the government, which may encourage debate and negotiation.

Undervalued staff are leaving the profession because those tasked with advocating on their behalf are unable to do so.


Readers panel' members give their views in a personal capacity and do not represent their organisations.

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