Pat Cullen, chief executive of the RCN said in a statement to members: ‘The prime minister will have to explain to over a million outraged NHS workers why they are getting the lowest pay rise in the public sector.
‘For nursing staff, the pay rise they actually rejected is worth increasingly little and being eclipsed now by announcements for other professions. It is unfair and inadequate’.
On average, public sector workers are being offered a 6 per cent rise, with junior doctors getting a 6 per cent rise, teachers getting 6.5 per cent, police and prison officers getting 7 per cent, and consultants, dentist and GPs being offered 6 per cent.
Ms Cullen said: ‘record numbers of jobs in the NHS are unfilled and the government cannot expect to turn that around when it appears not to value them.’
It is patients who are paying the price, according to Ms Cullen, and this will worsen if nurses return to the picket lines, which is more likely following today’s announcement.
Ms Cullen accused the government of pursuing a ‘highly cavalier approach when it knows over 100,000 nursing staff across the country voted to continue strike action only days ago’. She concluded by saying that the pay agreement will ‘only add to that number’.
But, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation has raised concerns over the funding of these increases and the impact on patient care. He said: ‘unless this increase is funded in full, this announcement does nothing more than wield an axe to the NHS’s already constrained budget and potentially allow industrial action to disrupt patient care for the foreseeable future.
‘If health leaders are expected to raid their own budgets to somehow plug this funding gap at local levels, it will almost certainly result in cutbacks to patient care elsewhere.’