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Little reassurance for nurses in budget

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The budget announced high spending The budget announced high spending

Despite longstanding pressures and nursing workforce shortages, the latest budget offers little reassurance to nursing staff, the RCN has warned.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the health capital budget will be the largest since 2010, saying that the extra revenue the government is forecasted to raise from the health and social care levy is going direct to the NHS and social care. However, the RCN has said that Mr Sunak did not address a fully funded fair and meaningful pay rise for all nursing staff, investment in nursing education, moves to tackle health inequalities or sustainable social care.

Read more: Nursing workforce too chronically under-resourced to deal with pandemic

‘Despite lip service to levelling up, the Chancellor has ducked the opportunity to address health inequalities and invest in the country's nursing staff as a means of investing in patient safety,’ said RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen.

‘The pay freeze hit nurses working in social care and the community – but whether in the NHS or not, nursing staff need a proper pay rise that finally recognises their skill and professionalism. He failed to address their pay and again kicked the can down the road by failing to give any commitment to a funded strategy for England to address the tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs in health and care.’

Read more: Services already unsustainable, says RCN

‘The significant additional investment already announced for the NHS to stabilise services, upgrade equipment and facilities and tackle the backlog of care is very welcome, but the real game changer would have been clear funding for a workforce plan,’ said Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund.

‘Chronic workforce shortages across the health and care system heap further pressure on overstretched staff who are exhausted from the pandemic. Yet despite pledges, promises and manifesto commitments, the Government has failed to use this Spending Review to answer the question of how it will chart a path out of the staffing crisis by setting out the funding for a multi-year workforce strategy.’

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