By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


RCN accuses NHS of 'double standards' on pay for nurses and executives

The amount of money the NHS spends on paying its senior managers has accelerated way ahead of that for nursing and midwifery staff, research by the Royal College of Nursing has found. 

The amount spent on executive directors over the last two years has increased by an average of 6.1%, compared to a 1.6% rise in earnings for nurses, midwives or health visitors.

The significant gap between the two layers of staff was revealed on Monday at the RCN’s annual congress in Liverpool.

“The government should do the decent and honourable thing and give nurses a decent wage”

Peter Carter

It gathered the information through freedom of information requests to trusts in England, which it has published in a report titled “All in it together?  The Executive pay bill in England’s NHS”.

The RCN said 50% of trusts had awarded salary increases of at least £5,000 to one or more executive directors. The increases were highest at acute specialist trusts. 

Geographically, the biggest jump in executive costs were found in the Eastern region, though the RCN also highlighted those in the East Midlands, North West and West Midlands.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “The findings in this report are yet another kick in the teeth for hardworking and loyal nursing staff.

Peter Carter

“The government has maintained an iron grip on the pay and benefits of frontline staff, whilst the senior managers pay bill has seemingly gone unchecked,” he said. “This is the worst kind of double standard and makes a mockery of their insistence that fairness has been at the heart of their decision making on public sector pay.

He added: “Failing to pay nursing staff a decent wage will continue to affect nurses’ living standards and morale and cause many more to consider leaving the NHS which is bad for nurses, bad for the NHS and bad for the country. The government should do the decent and honourable thing and give nurses a decent wage.” 

The move is part of the college’s response to the government’s decision in March to ignore the independent Pay Review Body’s recommendation for a blanket 1% rise in nurses’ basic pay.

Instead, it said at the top of their band will receive the 1% but those eligible for an incremental rise will not.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has subsequently offered to give staff a permanent 1% pay rise over the next two years if unions agree to a freeze on incremental pay in 2015-16, or agree to negotiate further alterations to the Agenda for Change contract.

But in April, members of Unison voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ballot on industrial action, including striking, over pay – though a date for this vote has so far not been announced.

Fellow unions Unite and the Royal College of Midwives are currently holding consultation exercises with members on whether to ballot for action. However, the RCN has not revealed any similar plans.

Meanwhile nurses in Scotland will receive 1%, as the Scottish government has accepted the review body’s recommendations.

The government allows trusts the freedom to set their own levels of senior management remuneration, but has called on employers to exercise “responsibility and sensitivity” to their staff who are subject to national contracts.


Andrew Bassett-Scott Toogood sings about fair pay at RCN Congress 2014

Readers' comments (23)

  • vote these idiots out next year..this is the only way to save our nhs

    since this lot came in we have had nothing but no pay rises, rising waiting times, A&E in crisis and more!

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Why does this not surprise me? We are undervalued as it is and have less and less respect from Government. Cynical I may be, but when Politicians plead poverty and award themselves a massive pay increase when they got us into this mess in the first place, it is very galling.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • We know money is tight but it is clear that nurses are undervalued.

    Good nurses will leave the NHS to do something else- somebody elses gain.

    There is already a shortage of nurses in this country - how bad does it have to get before there is change for the better.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Successive governements have relied on the good-will of nurses to work longer than their contracted hours in order to get the job done. There was a certain acceptance of this within our profession but in exchange we had the surety of our salary, our increments, our holiday entitlement and our pensions. Stripping us of this is just another way of de-valuing the NHS as an employer so that the Conservative Governement can move that bit closer to complete privatisation. We must protest at the ballot box, although I fear that our beloved NHS is already broken beyond economic repair.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • If i'm correct in saying, did the goverment say that to save money in the NHS they would cut managers jobs and pay not front line staff? Strange then that the only jobs being cut are nurse and admin staff, who makes these decisions oh yes the managers. So now we have hospitals in crisis because of staff shortages and just to demoralize these nurses further they won't get a pay rise. and now to top it off the senior managers get a 6.1% pay increase. may i remind those incharge if you don't have the front line staff i.e Nurse, HCA, Admin staff not too leave out all the other staff, you don't have a working hospital. Its about time you started to look after your staff.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The Conservative goverment didn't break our NHS the last Labour goverment broke not only the NHS but the whole country, kept on spending more than we had. Now the conservatives are being blamed for the mess LABOUR caused. This goverment Need to get to grips with the high salarys executive directors and senior managers are getting when they don't deserve them.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • If they freeze incremental pay why on earth would anybody bother going for promotion, taking on more responsibility for less money! As a band 7 at the bottom of the pay scale I earn less than some of my band 5 staff nurses as I am not allowed to work weekends, bank holidays or nights. I earn less now than I did 5 years ago!

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Labour did not break the country, that was the greedy bankers. Labour poured money into the NHS to drive up quality and standards. The Tories want to privatise the whole thing for profits, just like the bankers.
    As long as you work in the NHS and continue to support the Tories, you are voting yourself out of a job and all the rest of us.

    Unsuitable or offensive?


    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • strike action is the only way

    Unsuitable or offensive?


    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • I urge all nurses to leave the profession, do your selfs a favour, why would anyone who takes on the amount of responsibility we do want to put up with this.....good nurse will leave the NHS. Strike action is the only way at this point or the message will not be heard.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • I agree with the above comments, I think strike is the only option at this time if nothing is going to get done. I am sad to see good nurses already starting to leave for better quality of life else where, due to the poor and disgusting treatment we are currently receiving. While fat cat execs are getting vast wages they do not deserve, it is criminal !!!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Luke Mattoli | 16-Jun-2014 8:59 pm¨

    it is likely that good and educated nurses would prefer to leave than join a trade union or strike. there are excellent opportunities around the world where British trained nurses are still welcomed and treated with respect.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The amount spent on executive directors over the last two years has increased by an average of 6.1%, compared to a 1.6% rise in earnings for nurses, midwives or health visitors.

    Over the past 2 years! Where have you been the RCN? You have sat by & watched this happen and now you have the cheek to reveal this to us, to try and make us think you have our best interests at heart. You should have been flagging this all along but you wait until congress in a vague attempt to persuade us you are on our side. You are as responsible as all the goverments are for poor standards, you are the nursing establishment, you have not done enough to raise any concerns at any of the hospitals that have had poor standards. You are I am afraid a big part of the problem. Nursing needs to evolve and redefine its role, you are stuck in the past with too much vested interest to want change RIP RCN

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The RCN is a toothless wonder, another example of the great & the good congratulating themselves on being wonderful, most nurses only join the RCN as insurance if things go wrong. The RCN needs to redefine its role because it has had a seat at the table for years and it has failed to protect patients and failed spectacularly to protect & direct it's members.

    They will spend another day at congress rattling their pearls and waving their scarfs and telling each other how bloody super they all are....... But the Nursing profession knows the truth, they are as anon above states a massive part of the problem and they won't change, they have too much to lose.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The RCN, once a national and professional pride, may not be moving with the times to keep abreast with modern nursing and healthcare needs in favour of complacency and self-satisfaction. it needs to rethink its structure and its role.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Anonymous | 17-Jun-2014 7:01 am

    'Complete edentulousness is a serious life event in terms of readjustment.'

    just to give my quoted phrase its proper reference and where even more of the description in the abstract could in fact be applied to the RCN

    edentulousness can be due to degeneraiton commonly associated with the elderly! :-)

    (on a more serious note please see the rest of my comment above).

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Labour fed the Bankers allowed them free reign, and yes they poured money into the NHS to pay the Cheif Exec & Senior Managers their large salarys so that really helped didn't it? You can put all the money in the world into the NHS it won't help solve the core problem WASTE, the country was all most bankrupt by the time Labour finished thier stint in office. If they where so good why did they loose office, because the people of this rose tinted country realised what they are all about WASTE.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Just more examples of the RCN being confused in it's role, is it a trade union or a professional body?

    And to the above who asked how many of their members actually vote, I believe it is below 16% so it is apparent then they are not the voice of the masses.

    Only the already engaged go to Congress, there are more nurses who don't go, how are we going to engage and keep those nurses?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!