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Gap between living cost and wages across UK ‘widening’ for nurses

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The NHS announced pay rises will cap at 1% in 2017 The NHS announced pay rises will cap at 1% in 2017

Government recommendations to raise NHS employees’ pay by 1% has been called a ‘bitter blow to nursing staff’ by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The NHS Pay Review Board (PRB) released its 30th pay review on 27 March, recommending the government increase staff pay in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the same rate as the preceding six years. This will result in the average nurse receiving around £5 extra in their pay packet when the raise takes hold in April.

As inflation and national insurance continue to rise at a higher rate, the RCN argues that this pay rise cap will actually see nurses’ pay take a cut in real-terms.

RCN chief executive Janet Davies said: ‘This deals a bitter blow to nursing staff across England. The nursing profession is rightly held in high regard, but kind words don’t pay the bills. With this announcement, the government will deter people from joining the nursing profession at the very moment it is failing to retain staff.

The RCN campaigned for an above-inflation pay increase, but the continuation of the 1% cap means that pay will lag behind the cost of living for the sixth year in a row.

‘It amounts to another real-terms cut to pay packets — the government is still refusing to keep nursing wages in line with inflation,’ Ms Davies said. ‘The government has already cut nursing pay by 14% in real-terms, leaving too many struggling and turning to food banks and hardship grants.’

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) called the recommendation ‘reckless’, with a shortage of 3,500 midwives. They revealed 80% of leaving midwives said they would stay in the profession if pay could be improved.

Director for policy and employment relations Jon Skewes said: ‘It is extremely disappointing that the government is continuing with its disastrous policy of pay restraint for a seventh year.

‘The government need to intervene now to retain much-needed staff before it is too late.

‘The government should show NHS staff they are valued by giving them a fair pay rise that is in line with inflation. Investment in staff is an investment in high quality,
safe care.’

On 24 March, the Scottish government announced NHS Scotland employees will receive ‘at least a 1% pay rise’ in 2017/18. Staff earning less than £22,000 have been told to expect their pay to go up by
at least £400.

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