Pay snub to NHS nurses sparks fury
Royal College of Nursing warns one-third are considering leaving
07 August, 2020 — By Tom Foot
ANGER is mounting among NHS workers after the government’s pay rise snub.
Thousands of low-paid health workers including nurses will rally in St James’s Park before marching on Downing Street tomorrow (Saturday).
Many have lost colleagues from contracting Covid-19 while caring for others during pandemic, including the St Mary’s Hospital nurse, Melujean Ballesteros.
Hospital and care home staff were clapped as heroes during the lockdown by prime minister Boris Johnson on the doorstep of Number 10.
But on Saturday they will knock on his door to deliver a petition of more than 500,000 signatures.
One nurse at St Mary’s, who did not want to be named but will be going on the demo on Saturday, said: “Two months ago, it felt like they would have given us the Earth.
“Now it feels like we’re back to the ‘old normal’: protesting, not getting listened to, and struggling on.”
The chancellor has awarded a 3.1 per cent pay rise to 900,000 public sector workers, including doctors, teachers and police.
But several professions – including nursing – have been missed out.
Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said: “No amount of Thursday evening clapping and warm ministerial words can compensate for this dramatic loss in income.
“The public expects – and ministers should deliver – a substantial pay increase for NHS staff that reflects their real worth to the NHS and society more generally. NHS workers shouldn’t have to wait till April 2021.”
Low pay among NHS nurses is one of the reasons behind a major shortage that caused havoc for hospitals during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
New research by the Royal College of Nursing suggests over one-third of nurses are considering leaving because of poor pay and conditions.
GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said: “Many dedicated staff have left the NHS because they can no longer cope with the low pay combined with crippling workloads. This has plunged our health service into a recruitment crisis.”
Thirteen health unions and organisations have backed the campaign.
The government has stated nurses are not included in the pay rises as they agreed a separate Agenda for Change three-year deal in 2018, which will result in the average nurse receiving “an average 4.4 per cent rise this year”.
However, the nursing community has argued the vast majority of front-line nurses are in band 5 and received just a 1.65 per cent rise in April.
The Department of Health and Social Care added that “nurses do a fantastic job, working incredibly hard, day in, day out – and we need to do more to make sure they feel valued and supported”.
They said: “Since the start of the AfC deal in 2017/18 we have increased the starting salary for nurses by 12 per cent – to nearly £25,000. Existing nurses will have seen a pay rise of at least 6.5 per cent over this time, with those below the top of their pay band able to move to the top of the pay band more quickly than under the previous pay structure.”
It added it was “immensely grateful” to all social care workers, but has argued that the vast majority are employed by private sector providers, meaning their salaries will be set by local authorities.