Nurses’ pay has stagnated for over a decade, according to an extensive, damning report on public sector pay from the Office of Manpower Economics.
Wage Growth in Pay Review Body Occupations was published with little fanfare yesterday, analysing changes in median pay for various occupations in the public sector since 2005.
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It reported that nurses were earning median real earnings of £16 an hour in 2005. Despite a rise to £17 an hour in 2010, pay slumped back down to just above £16 by 2015 – showing a minimal rise of 1.4% in nurses’ pay across the 10-year period.
The stalling of nurses’ wages has been largely attributed by nursing organisations to the 1% cap on pay rises which has been enforced by the government since 2010. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has arranged a ‘summer of protest’ in opposition to the policy.
RCN chief executive Janet Davies wrote an article for the Guardian on 3 July calling for an end to the cap, which is leading many nurses to consider leaving their jobs.
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She wrote: ‘Last week one nurse showed me a payslip from seven years ago and another from last month. Her pay had remained static while rent, food and childcare costs had rocketed.
‘The 1% cap on pay ‘rises’, and pay freezes for years before that, have left nurses at least £3,000 a year worse off than in 2010. It cannot be repeated enough: a pay ‘rise’ that is deliberately held below inflation is in fact a pay cut.’
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While no official word has come from the government regarding a lifting of the cap, the Labour opposition called for its scrapping in an amendment to the Queen’s speech which was voted down. Tory MPs who toed the government line by voting against scrapping the cap have since said they want to work to scrap it in due course.
Rumours that the government was planning to lift the pay cap spread through Westminster on 29 June but were batted down later in the day by a Downing Street press briefing.