The General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Pat Cullen, has called for a ‘seismic shift’ in nursing pay. In. a message to RCN members Ms Cullen says they should use what will almost certainly be an election year to start a better conversation about the value of nursing. ‘In 2024, nursing roles are held in high regard by patients and service users, but politicians are yet to catch up,’ she said.
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As talks between the Government and striking doctors resume, the RCN wants more recognition of the clinical care nurses provide to the public. Last year, nurses received the lowest pay deal in the public sector, at 5%. Ms Cullen highlighted that nursing staff are ‘safety critical’ and that poor understanding of the importance of nurses has left jobs unfilled and pay too low.
Ms Cullen noted that unfair pay takes nurses away from clinical care and can lead to nurses receiving the same pay throughout their careers. ‘You should never amass decades of experience but see no recognition of it in your salary.’ she said, ‘I want the career pathway for nursing to be smashed wide open. Whether you take on management roles or not, your knowledge and excellence as a nursing professional has to be recognised.’
At the start of the month, the Government launched a 12-week call for evidence on a separate pay structure for nursing staff. The current pay scale for NHS nursing staff hasn’t changed in almost 20 years, which the RCN believes no longer reflects the skills and expertise needed in nursing today.
‘After 20 years, three-quarters of our members are on the two lowest pay bands possible for registered professionals.’ Ms Cullen said. ‘We are weighted to the bottom of the pay and grading structure without a clear route through.’
In response to the call for evidence, the RCN has launched a listening exercise with members to inform its feedback. Ms Cullen urged her members to take part. ‘Let’s open the biggest public and political conversation about the value of nursing and tell the sceptics why nursing is unique, why patients need us and how we know why we deserve better,’ she said.