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.

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

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


'A year of pay restraint and public support'


As we say farewell to 2014, many nurses wish they could wave goodbye to pay restraint too.

This was the year that finally brought long-suffering nurses and midwives out on the picket line after the health secretary rejected the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations for a blanket 1% pay rise (see page 6). In October and November, NHS staff staged two four-hour stoppages but so far Jeremy Hunt continues to insist pay restraint will save nurses’ jobs.

I suspect the government hoped the recent scandals surrounding quality of care would make the public less sympathetic. But when the Nursing Times team joined picket lines on both strike days, they heard car horns tooting and shouts of support that prove nurses are still considered with great affection. And rightly so.

What is more likely to upset the public is a lack of nurses to look after them and their loved ones. Our survey in February, marking the anniversary of the publication of the Francis report, followed by another in May with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, revealed that despite the so-called Francis effect, nurses still felt their organisations were understaffed - more than half believed dangerously so.

In the wake of Francis, the focus on staff numbers is power to the elbow of nursing. Staff levels now have to be displayed on the NHS Choices website, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence will continue to publish guidance on safe staffing in a range of health settings. For the first time ever, people are connecting patient safety and nursing numbers.

If it’s accepted that nurse numbers affect safety, why isn’t more being done to train, recruit and retain nurses? Trusts are forced to recruit nurses from overseas to plug gaps left by the government’s inadequate planning (news, page 2). NICE may say that having more than eight patients per nurse on a regular basis during the day is a red-flag event, but without more nurses this will happen often. This problem is not unforeseen: huge numbers of nurses are nearing retirement, so succession planning should be under way.

The highlight of the year for me has been the public recognition that qualified nurses make a difference to the quality of care. The low point is the government still refusing to recognise nurses’ value in their pay packets.

● Our next issue is out on 14 January. Until then, keep abreast of all that is happening in nursing on

Jenni Middleton, editor me on Twitter @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (8)

  • Maryam Omitogun

    Yearly Increase in Payment of Nurses Should be Automatic. Either it is 1% Increase or more, this should not be something we should be discussing or reminding the Government to do.

    Nurses are paid for the hard work they do and therefore they should not be denied of Increase in their wages.If Nurses are been well recognised for their work and pay good salary as it's applied to other Health/Medical Professionals,more people will join the professions. Shortage of Nurses will be minimal and there will more Nurses to care for the sick.

    Every Countries need their Nurses to take care of the sick.There will less recruiting from other Countries migrating to work because they are looking for good payment.All nurses will be properly trained in their countries, learn the culture and give a very Quality/ Excellent treatment to the service users.

    Global Yearly Increment in Wages should applied to all Nurses and other health care professionals. Equity and Equality in Nurses payment is a Global Issue. This should be corrected so as to have more people having interest in Nursing Job and take care of the sick.

    Maryam Dolapo Omitogun
    Nursing/Public Health Professional

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • nurses should also be educated in politics and economics!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You are off your rocker if you think pay restraint isn't going to continue for at least the next parliament, maybe for the next decade, no matter who has the keys to No10

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • redpaddys12 | 27-Dec-2014 6:02 am

    and so it should. nurses, like the rest of society, have to share the responsibility of British debt and improving economy otherwise, through their own greed, it will take even longer to recover.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 27-Dec-2014 9:15 am

    Jeremy, is that you?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To be honest, as I was ascending the increments as a band 5 and then 6 I used to think that I was onto a good thing getting an x% payrise in April and then an incremental rise a few months later. I can see what the Government are saying by splitting the two into one or the other, but I don't agree with further 1% restraint - unless they can "promise" to hold inflation and interest rates to similar levels.

    The trouble is that the NHS is probably the biggest single employer in the UK and as such will have the biggest wage bill, so capping our pay is a quick win and is why it is disingenuous to suggest that deferring the (635-ish) MPs 11% would have a similar effect.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Re: Anonymous 27 Dec 0915 hours.

    If only what you said was true.....Sadly, the rest of British society is most definitely NOT sharing the pain. Nurse did not create the debt, so why should they be penalised for it? Other workers are getting pay rises, even other public sector workers. As someone else pointed out, the NHS is the biggest employer, so keeping down wages for nurses and some other staff is an easy way to reduce public spending. Please note that pay for Chief Executives and other senior NHS staff has increased significantly. Also remember the massive on-call payments made to doctors, and the generous payments made to locums and out of hours GPs. So, we are not all in it together. It's about time nurses stopped being so spineless and fought for what they rightly deserve. Shame on the unions for not fighting for our rights - yes, they have held "strikes" - but they are mere tokenism as they are designed not to hurt users of the NHS. A proper 24 strike would soon have the Dept of Health scurrying around wanting to talk. Come on nurses, what's holding you back????

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 5-Jan-2015 3:41 pm

    nurses are not being singled out an penalised anymore than any other group of workers or citizens. there needs to be solidarity and sacrifice in order for the economy to recover and to reap the benefits from it. for that to happen the country needs to be productive and to look after the health of the nation and the sick to ensure each individual is as productive as they possibly can be instead of neglecting them and making them suffer endless waits for consultations, investigations and treatment. the world knows of the lack of organisation in the NHS in a land of plenty - it is a disgrace.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.