‘Scrap the Cap’. That was the message from Islwyn MP Chris Evans as he backed the growing campaign for the Government to lift the 1% cap on public sector pay in the upcoming Budget.
On Wednesday 6th September, nursing staff held a demonstration in Westminster to call on the Chancellor to scrap the cap in the upcoming Autumn Budget.
Meeting with frontline nurses as part of the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) lobby of Parliament, Mr Evans heard how low pay has a detrimental impact on morale, the ability to recruit and retain nurses, and patient safety.
Since 2010, NHS nursing staff have experienced a 14% real-terms pay cut as a result of Government policy on pay in the public sector – leaving pay packets £3,000 worse off each year. An Employment Survey carried out by the RCN found that two thirds of members have to undertake a second job to make ends meet as a result.
Nurses are working in an increasingly pressurised and understaffed health and care system. The nursing regulator recently revealed that the profession is shrinking, with more nurses leaving the profession than joining it, and 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone. Separate RCN analysis shows that nurses with more than 10 years’ experience are leaving the NHS at twice the rate they were three years ago.
New academic research shows that when the number of registered nurses on a shift falls, care is left undone and patient mortality levels increase.
Frontline RCN members told Mr Evans that 317 nurses are affected by the pay cap in Islwyn.
After meeting with the RCN, Mr Evans said: “Our NHS nurses are overstretched, underpaid and undervalued. It’s time for the Government to show their commitment to valuing and supporting nurses – the public sector pay cap must be scrapped before the Conservatives do irreversible damage to the NHS.”
“With an increasing cost of living against a backdrop of rising inflation, there is no way that the Prime Minister and her Government can justify maintaining the cap at 1%”.
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: “It’s a false economy to keep nurses’ pay down – short staffing is threatening the safety of our patients. Nurses will not tolerate having their pay squeezed any further. The Government must put party politics aside and lift the cap.”