MPs raised concerns about the effect pay restrictions were having on nursing morale in a parliamentary debate.
Led by Catherine McKinnell MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, the debate was in response to an e-petition set up by community nurse Danielle Tiplady to remove the pay cap for nurses and midwives.
Ms McKinnell said 'it was bad enough that the government continually expect NHS staff, many of whom are at breaking point, to do more with less and treat more patients with fewer resources in what are usually physically and psychologically demanding roles, but to expect them to do so while they face such anxiety and stress over their own financial situation is completely unacceptable'.
Many of the MPs argued that the recurrent pay restraint imposed on nursing and midwifery staff were leaving them stressed and wishing to leave the profession.
FIgures from Health Education England (HEE) show that 8.8% of nurses left the NHS – the highest number since 2011. On top of this a third of nurses are due to retire in the next 10 years.
Former shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, also highlighted that there had 'been an attack on nursing training places' meaning that fewer nurses were joinin the profession. In reponse to this more and more Trusts are relying on agency nurses and overseas recruitment which in turn costs the NHS more.
Former health minister and MP for Central Suffok and North Ipswich Dan Poulter highlighted that in his constituency, 'managers have sometimes received huge pay rises at the expense of frontline staff, who have received pay rises of nought or 1%. That is unacceptable'.
The current health minister Phillip Dunne, responded to these comments, stated that all NHS staff received the national living wage. 'The truth is that average earnings of NHS staff as a whole remained well above the national average salary for 2015, which was £27,500, and have increased by more than annual pay awards,' he said.
However, he stated that pay alone 'will not necessarily persuade the skilled and compassionate people that we need to choose a career in the NHS'.
He concluded by saying that recruitment and retention was not just about pay. It is about creating a culture in which learning, development and innovation are encouraged. 'It is about creating an environment where staff want to work, take pride in what they do, and are well motivated and feel safe; an environment where employers promote the importance of the values of the NHS and work incredibly hard to keep staff safe, and where bullying and harassment are not tolerated'.