The independent London newspaper

Pay cap for nurses has the NHS in crisis

12 May, 2017

• WHEN the government gave nursing staff another real-terms pay cut this month, the Royal College of Nursing decided to ask all 270,000 of its members working in the NHS how they want to respond.

As an elected member of the RCN council, I voted in favour of launching this poll of our members. I want nursing staff in London and across the country to decide what action the RCN takes.

Nursing staff are beyond disappointed by six years of real-term pay cuts. Over the same period, pressure in hospital and community nursing reached unprecedented levels meaning they are working harder than ever.

In the online poll, they have a chance to vote to take strike action, a decision that would be historic for the RCN; or anything short of a strike, such as not working unpaid overtime.

With a general election up ahead there is no better time to hold politicians to account for the impact of their decisions. The 1 per cent pay cap for nursing staff is fuelling a recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS that is as damaging for patient care as it is for nurses themselves.

Nurses are not taking this action lightly. The wellbeing of patients is top priority for every nurse and healthcare assistant. But too many are struggling to make ends meet and they should not have to cover the NHS deficit from their own pay packet.

President, Royal College of Nursing London


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