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Nurse writes open letter on Facebook calling for better pay deal


Brighton nurse Penny Johnson has used the popular social media platform Facebook to call for a better pay offer, after claiming the present proposal “doesn’t even cover basic living costs”.

Ms Johnson said she could see “absolutely no reason” for her to accept the deal, which was unveiled on 21 March after negotiations between unions and NHS Employers on behalf of the government.

“Even angels need to have food, shelter and some rewards for their labours”

Penny Johnson

It would only be worth around an extra £60 to £100 a month to her before tax was deducted, she said, highlighting that it followed years of freezes and caps on salary increases for NHS nurses.

“Today’s pay rise equates to me as £104 per month before tax/National Insurance/pension deductions for the first year. In years two and three, I will get £60 per month before deductions,” she said. “So, in three years’ time I will have gained £2,716 before tax.

“Given that I have been on a pay freeze for over eight years, that the proposal is under the rate of inflation, the pay rise doesn’t cover my council tax increase there is absolutely no reason for me to accept this perpetual abuse of goodwill,” she said.

“Would £60 per month before deductions be of value to you if you had been on pay freeze for a decade”

Penny Johnson

Ms Johnson added: “We often get referred to as angels, because nursing is our vocation, but even angels need to have food, shelter and some rewards for their labours.”

Describing herself as a “very deflated, but still caring nurse”, she called on NHS patients to “please help us to fight this ridiculous situation” and to “truly understand this is not greed”.

She asked: “Would £60 per month before deductions be of value to you if you had been on pay freeze for a decade? Would you want the blame of a death on your shoulders for a very modest salary? Would you want to manage the worst of human behaviour and bodily excretions for financial reward that doesn’t even cover the basic living costs?”

The letter, which was first posted by Ms Johnson on her Facebook page on 22 March and then again on 9 April, has been shared in total over 500 times.

Under the proposals, nurses and other NHS staff on the Agenda for Change contract in England are to be offered an average 6.5% pay rise over three years.

The multi-year deal would mean all but the very highest paid staff would get 3% in April 2018, 1.7% and a 1.1% lump sum in April 2019, and 1.7% from April 2020, according to negotiators.

They also said that the proposed new system would allow individuals to reach the top of their pay band sooner, starting salaries will be increased and there would be an end to band overlaps.

As a result, the negotiators have claimed the deal could result in up to 29% increases in pay for some. However, a number of nurses have also attacked the proposals as insufficient.

Health unions are set to soon begin asking their members whether they would like to accept or reject the proposals, with all except the GMB encouraging staff to back the deal.

Unions have also launched a website with more information on the proposal, including a “pay calculator” so staff on different bands can what they would get over the three years.

NHS nurses have become increasingly frustrated at having their pay either frozen or restrained since 2010, most recently due to the cap that has limited basic wage rises to 1% since 2015.

Pay negotiations have been happening sporadically between unions and the body NHS Employers, which represents the government, since the strike action that took place in 2014.

However, the discussions had stalled due the previous absence of an offer of any new money for pay increases above 1% – a barrier that was lifted last year.

Social media

Nurse writes open letter on Facebook calling for better pay deal

Penny Johnson’s letter on Facebook


Readers' comments (3)

  • Well done. But it’s time to call a full scale strike

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  • Beautifully put, and I agree with the comment above. The NHS is crashing, staff are leaving, new student numbers are dropping, resources are increasingly scarce. Nurses are bearing the brunt of this on the front line, watching deteriorating standards of care and fighting over who’s budget is responsible for which patient instead of doing what we’re trained for, and suffering increasing violence and abuse from an increasingly dissatisfied public. I think strike is the only recourse left to the profession, we are clearly not being taken seriously

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  • If you want to be a nurse in Britain today be prepared to embrace poverty

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