The recent rise in national insurance contributions, combined with record inflation, is leaving nurses nearly £1000 worse off, analysis by the RCN has found.
According to the analysis, If the government sticks to its suggestion of giving NHS staff in England a 3% pay rise this year, a nurse at the top of band 5 will face a real terms drop of £935 in their take home pay in the face of rising inflation, based on a current annual salary of £31,534 and inflation forecast to be 8%.
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‘Nursing staff are already feeling the financial strain with the recent increase in petrol prices, heating bills and the cost-of-living crisis,’ said RCN Director for England Patricia Marquis.
‘They feel they have given a huge amount throughout the pandemic and are now being asked to pay for the recovery of the very health and care system they kept running for the last two years.’
The figure is similar in Northern Ireland and Wales, where NHS pay scales closely mirror those in England. The Scottish government is yet to begin negotiations for this year’s pay, meaning nursing staff working for the NHS do not yet know how much they are going to be paid as they face higher bills.
With the cost of living spiralling out of control and decades of below inflation pay awards, The RCN is reminding ministers that without proper investment in the nursing profession, they risk losing more staff and putting patient care in jeopardy.
‘The efforts of the pandemic will leave a lasting mark on those that led the response with many saying they’re exhausted and that there is not enough staff for them to do their jobs properly. This is the reality of the tens of thousands of nursing vacancies across health and care,’ added Ms Marquis.
‘Ministers now have a simple choice to make – give nursing staff the pay rise they deserve that does not leave them worse off in real terms or risk an exodus of the very staff they need for the long-term recovery of safe patient care. Not acting now will make that recovery take even longer.’