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Nurses urge ministers to show 'respect' and end 1% pay cap

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Nurses have told Nursing Times that the government must show the profession it is “respected” for the work it does, by both removing the 1% cap on annual wage rises and increasing salaries to reflect changes in the cost of living.

At a rally in London on Wednesday, hundreds of nurses gathered to urge the government to put a stop to the cap, following seven years of pay restraint. Nursing Times spoke to nurses attending the event in Westminster, covering a broad range of specialties and experience.

“We’re not asking for footballers’ wages”

Charlotte Jones

The event, organised by the Royal College of Nursing, was expected to attract around 2,000 nurses and follows a series of campaigning events over the summer led by the union.

It also comes in the wake of recent reports that the Treasury is making plans to advise the body that assesses NHS wages every year that the cap may be phased out from 2018.

Those at today’s rally told Nursing Times that the government’s restriction on salary rises – initially set to be in place until 2020 – sent a message to the profession that it was “underappreciated” and that staff were leaving the profession as a result.

Staff nurse Charlotte Jones, who works in intensive care at an NHS trust in North Devon, said she was concerned about the future of nursing and that many may not stay in their jobs because they aren’t paid for the responsibilities they have.

“We’re not asking for footballers’ wages, we’re just asking to receive a pay that will help us to live comfortably, so that we can deliver the best care that we can to our patients” said Ms Jones.

“It’s so demotivating to see how nurses are underappreciated and how the kind of tasks and skills that they have aren’t valued”

Lucy Bennett 

Student nurse Lucy Bennett from Nottingham University, who also attended the rally, said the cap needed to be removed to show “some respect and some kind of recognition” for the work nurses do.

“It’s so demotivating to see how nurses are underappreciated and how the kind of tasks and skills that they have aren’t valued,” she told Nursing Times.

Meanwhile, nurse Connor Bond, who works in critical care services in central London, said it was “humiliating” for nurses with many years’ experience to have to attend food banks due to the rising cost of living and limited wage increases.

“I worked out that the 1% increase would get me something like a white coffee at Macdonald’s every couple of weeks, which is just pitiful really because I go through lots of coffee,” he said. “I do lots of night shifts, so I need a bit more than that to survive.”

When asked what sort of the salary change he wanted to see, Mr Bond said he believed a pay rise in line with inflation was needed.

Newly-qualified accident and emergency nurse Jennifer Gotch-Kane, who works at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, also said a pay rise to reflect the increased cost of living would be fair.

Their comments reflect calls from the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies, who told Nursing Times that the union wanted to see pay increases in 2018 go beyond the rate of inflation.

Meanwhile, community psychiatric nurse of 30 years, Sharon Morris, from Anglesey in Wales, said she wanted the government to “stop relying on nurses’ goodwill to keep the NHS going”.

“It makes you feel sick when you feel you’re not being valued”

Katherine Youngs

In addition, student nurse Katherine Youngs said nurses deserved to have the pay cap lifted because of the work they do for patients.

“I know the difference [nurses] can make and if I can make that difference to people’s lives, then anything is worth it, but it makes you feel sick when you feel you’re not being valued,” she said.

Teifion Woodward, a staff nurse who works on a rehab ward at Ysbty Ystrad Fawr Hospital in South Wales, added that it was important to join the rally “to show this government how angry and how dissatisfied we are”.

Royal College of Nursing

Nurses urge ministers to show ‘respect’ and end 1% pay cap

Charlotte Jones

Royal College of Nursing

Nurses urge ministers to show ‘respect’ and end 1% pay cap

Lucy Bennett

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