Nurses and NHS staff from 15 unions have written to Theresa May demanding the removal of the 1% pay cap.
The cap has been in force to limit pay rises for NHS staff for the past seven years and recently led the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to vote in favour of a ‘summer of protest action’ to express their opposition to the policy.
While Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has hinted in a speech to NHS Confed17 last week that he would consider lifting the cap, the Prime Minister has been criticised while on their campaign trail for her response to questions over nurses using food banks.
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In a joint letter to Mrs May, the RCN joined 14 other organisations to call on the government to commit to the removal of the pay cap and address the real-terms loss of earnings when the Queen presents the legislative programme in her speech on Wednesday.
They warned that health and care services are becoming unsafe without the necessary staff and called on Mrs May to ‘prioritise patient safety in this changed political landscape’.
It reads: ‘The Public Sector Pay Cap has forced professionals out of jobs they love. Those who stay are overstretched and under pressure to do ever more with less.’
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The cap stands in the way of recruiting and retaining the best in health care and is having a profound and detrimental effect on standards of care for people at a time when the NHS is short of staff across every discipline, according to the letter.
NHS nursing staff have been left at least £3,000 worse off as salaries fell by 14% in real-terms.
Jon Skewes, director of policy for the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), signed the letter on behalf of his organisation.
He said: ‘The general election result clearly showed that the public are concerned about on-going pay restraint in the NHS. We, along with the other unions, are demanding that the government put an end to their disastrous policy of pay restraint.
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‘Since 2010 the average midwife has seen their pay drop in value by over £6,000. This is unacceptable, unsustainable and cannot continue.
‘The RCM, along with the other health unions will continue to pressure the Government on this issue and will be calling on our members to write to their MP asking for their support for fair pay.’