I recently received a large number of campaign cards from RCN members contacting me about the cap on nursing pay. I know this is an issue a lot of people in the constituency care about so I thought I would share my latest response here.
Nurses do a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances, yet they have now faced years of pay restraint. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) estimates that since 2010 there has been a real-terms drop in earnings of 14%.
In Autumn Budget on November 22nd Chancellor Philip Hammond agreed to fund pay awards for NHS staff, but he did not specify how much new money is to be made available. The Government also said that any pay increase would be “on the condition that the pay award enabled improved productivity in the NHS”, a move which has been criticised by the Chief Executive of NHS England.
I believe the Government has been taking NHS staff for granted for far too long. Nurses are being asked to do more for less, which has resulted in a recruitment and retention crisis. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service recently confirmed that applications to study nursing fell by 23% this year and the Nursing and Midwifery Council has also found an increase in the number of nurses and midwives leaving their professions
The 2017 Labour manifesto pledged to end the public sector pay cap and make a return to public sector pay being agreed through collective bargaining and the evidence of independent pay review bodies. I also supported an Opposition amendment in the House of Commons which called on the Government to give public sector workers a fair pay rise. Unfortunately, the Government voted against the amendment and it was defeated.
My Labour colleagues and I will continue to do all we can to ensure that nurses and other public sector workers are paid at a level which recognises the skill and dedication they bring to their jobs.
You might also be interested to see the blog I wrote on this subject back in February.