Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, must remember the work of nursing staff he praised after his own hospital stay and reconsider his 1% NHS pay award, Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the RCN has said.
In a direct appeal to Mr Johnson, the Dame Donna recalled the description the PM gave of his life-saving care and the nursing staff who stood by him for 48 hours last spring. Dame Donna told a conference of hundreds of frontline nurses and activists that their work in the pandemic has ‘smashed’ old stereotypes and that the next pay award must acknowledge the realities of the role.
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‘I’m appealing directly to Boris Johnson today to think back 12 months. When you told the world you owed your life to the care of nursing staff. When you acknowledged that the people who looked after you were putting themselves in harm’s way,’ said Dame Donna.
‘You had your eyes opened to the difference 21st century nursing makes. You told the country it was two nurses who stood guard for 48 hours and made life saving interventions. How would you feel if you saw them now? They stood by you, now stand by them.’
Dame Donna also said that government knows it has ‘badly misjudged’ the moment. She will criticise suggestions of one-off Covid bonuses for NHS staff in England and say that ministers appear to be ‘timid and tinkering’ despite tens of thousands of unfilled nursing posts.
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‘Reports suggest the government is thinking of trying to defuse this row by giving people a small Covid bonus. It’s very simple - we don’t want a one-off sweetener. Nursing needs a significant increase this year that we can build on next year too,’ added Dame Donna.
‘There are tens of thousands of vacant posts and yet ministers are timid and tinkering. They are driving even more to reconsider their career in nursing after the pandemic. Putting an extra £3.50 a week on the table doesn’t cover the cost of a day’s parking.’