The chancellor’s autumn budget on Wednesday will specifically highlight that money is to be provided to fund a pay increase for nurses above the current 1% cap, according to reports.
The strong indication that Philip Hammond would include nurse pay in his budget were unveiled in the Sunday Telegraph under the headline “Hammond budget pay boost for nurses”.
“We will wait to see details but nursing staff need a pay rise above inflation”
He is expected to announce that new funds will be put aside to meet the independent NHS pay review body’s latest set of recommendations on nurse remuneration, which are due next year.
Although the paper gave few further details, it said the focus on nurses was designed to take on Labour over the NHS and followed increasing pressure from cabinet colleagues and other MPs.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested during a recent debate that the NHS pay cap was at an end, though it was unclear at that stage where the funding for any increases would come from.
Meanwhile, the influential Commons health select committee is currently carrying out an enquiry on nurse staffing shortages that includes looking at pay among a range of workforce factors.
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Unions have also been increasingly vocal on public sector pay this year, with the Royal College of Nursing holding a series of protests over the summer under the “scrap the cap banner”.
Budget statement widely expected to include nurse pay rise
In addition, it warned of the possibility of strike action from its members if there was no indication that the 1% cap on pay rises would be dropped in the near future.
Along with other unions, it has demanded a pay rise above inflation to make up for lost earnings during the period of the 1% cap and the freeze that preceded it, as well as highlighting claims that nursing staff were being forced to get extra jobs or use food banks.
NHS unions wrote to the government in September calling for a 3.9% increase, in the wake of what they saw as a disappointing a 1.7% rise announced for prison officers and an increase in police pay totalling 2% for 2017-18.
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Responding to reports in the Sunday Telegraph on nurse pay and the budget, an RCN spokesman said: “We will wait to see details on Wednesday but nursing staff need a pay rise above inflation and the government must give the NHS the funds to cover it.”
Gail Gartmail, Unite’s assistant general secretary for the public sector, said: “The public sector needs a generous pay settlement in the budget to catch up on the pay they have lost in real terms since 2010 and attract the dedicated staff we need to sustain vital public services.”
Dr Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, said she hoped to see the chancellor provide community nursing services with a “much needed injection of new resources” in the autumn budget.