A petition demanding an end to the pay rise cap imposed on nurses and other Agenda for Change NHS staff by the government has passed 10,000 signatures in just a few days.
Reaching the milestone means ministers must respond in writing to the petition on the parliament website. If it goes on to subsequently pass 100,000 names, it could force a debate in Westminster.
“The impact of the pay restraint is harsh. Many are sadly leaving the professions they love”
The petition was set up on 3 October by community nurse and union activist Danielle Tiplady. As of today, it has attracted 13,323 signatures. It will run for six months and close on 3 April 2017.
While a student at King’s College London, Ms Tiplady was an outspoken campaigner against the government’s plans to replace bursaries with a system of loans.
In her introduction to the petition, she highlighted that nursing, midwifery, healthcare assistants and associated healthcare professionals had “suffered a pay restraint since 2010”.
Nurse’s pay rise petition passes key milestone
As a result, Ms Tiplady said staff had lost approximately 14% in real terms of their pay. Staff were struggling nationwide and many have been pushed into poverty, she said.
“The impact of the pay restraint is harsh. Many are sadly leaving the professions they love,” she said. “There is an NHS staff crisis. In London we lack 10,000 nurses.
“Yet two fifths of nurses living in the capital plan to leave as they are unable to pay their rent. Staff reporting using food banks and hardship funds is increasing,” she added.
Citing a Nursing Times story on London nurses being priced out of the capital, she said: “The pay restraint must end.”
The setting up of the petition comes as the annual salary review process for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change contract gets underway.
Last Friday, unions submitted their evidence to the NHS pay review body, which advises ministers on remuneration levels for the majority of health service staff each year.
Pay rises capped at 1% are “unsustainable” and must instead be increased to above inflation rates to help ease the current nurse recruitment crisis, they warned.
In last summer’s budget announcement, the government announced public sector pay rises would be limited to 1% until 2020. It later revealed that future pay rises would be “targeted” and there was no guarantee that every employee would receive a 1% wage increase.
But unions called for the cap to be broken, highlighting that trusts were struggling to recruit and retain staff amid a national workforce crisis.
NHS Employers, representing trusts, and the government will also submit evidence to the review body before it makes a recommendation.