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New Health Secretary must show support for nursing staff

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It has been a chaotic week in Westminister It has been a chaotic week in Westminister

Steve Barclay, the new Secretary of Health and Social Care, must ‘rise above the mayhem’ and offer nurses an immediate pay rise, the RCN has said.

Steve Barclay was appointed Health Secretary on 6 July following the resignation of Sajid Javid. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, subsequently announced his resignation, leading to fears that the NHS would be neglected at a critical time.

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‘A political vacuum now exists at a time when nursing staff providing care and treatment against all odds face unrelenting pressure and a workforce crisis. Patient care and safety is being jeopardised and a cost-of-living disaster is forcing many of those same staff to turn to food banks opened by their employers,’ said RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen.

‘The incredible hardship our members face is in no small part down to a decade of pay cuts. The new Health Secretary must rise above the mayhem and indicate his support for nursing with an immediate and substantial pay rise, already three months overdue.’

According to the RCN, there needs to be urgent action to address the sharp increase in experienced nurses leaving the profession and the disproportionate reliance on international recruitment with insufficient investment in the nursing workforce, she concluded.

‘His imminent decision on NHS pay will send the first and greatest signal on the relationship Mr Barclay wants with his health and care workforce. If he doles out another real terms pay cut before his feet are properly under the desk, our professionals will immediately lose faith in him,’ said Chair of RCN Council Carol Popplestone.

‘We urge him to listen and then act. Our members face incredible hardship. This dire situation is driving people out of nursing and adding to the staffing crisis. His action in the next few days can begin to turn the tide for these people who give so much of themselves to their work and the nation’s health.’

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