Nursing staffing levels ‘will only be improved with above-inflation pay rise’, RCN warn

Nursing staffing levels will only be improved if the Government awards an above-inflation pay rise, ministers are being told.

Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), will berate ministers for sending out a “terrible message” on nurses’ pay.

She will tell the RCN’s annual congress in Glasgow that nurses should never be embarrassed for asking to be paid “decently”.

In the coming days, governments across the UK will begin to announce the next round of NHS pay awards.

Ms Cullen will say that in the grips of a cost-of-living crisis, nursing staff are worried about how they are going to make ends meet.

A pay rise below the current rate of inflation this summer would be “another pay cut”, she will say, adding: “When the cost of living is soaring, I know how frightened you are. People choosing between heating and eating, and it’s not even winter.

“People doing their community rounds by bus because they cannot fill the car.

“Your employers being put in the shameful position of opening in-house food banks for the staff. It is the politicians who are responsible and only they can address it.

“We should never be embarrassed for asking to be paid decently and appropriately.

“When ministers make their announcements this summer, anything below the current level of inflation is another pay cut.

“If they want to stand a chance of improving staffing levels and rewarding nursing skill, the award needs to not just match inflation but go 5% above it.”

Nurses left at risk in pandemic due to lack of clear guidance, union claims

Nursing staff were left at risk throughout the pandemic without clear guidance, effective testing or adequate personal protective equipment, according to a union leader.

Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), will call for nursing staff to be fully involved in UK and Scottish government inquiries into the pandemic.

She will tell the RCN’s annual congress in Glasgow on Monday that the inquiry must address the concerns of nursing staff.

The RCN confirmed it will apply for “core participant” status in the UK inquiry on behalf of its members.

Ms Cullen will say: “The last 27 months have changed all of our lives. Many of you faced situations we hoped never to see.

“Too many incredible nursing staff had their lives cut brutally short and many others are living with the impact of the virus still today.

“The guidance was confusing. The testing was inadequate. The PPE was missing or poor. The consequences were fatal.

“This state of affairs is the very antithesis of everything nursing is about. You were let down by ministers throughout the pandemic.

“The Covid-19 inquiry must not just be about what they failed to do in the years before the pandemic, those early days or even the big moments of the last two years. It must look ahead.

“You gave more of yourselves than anybody could ever ask. The RCN will do justice to everybody’s experience these last two years.”

The RCN submitted its response to a public consultation on the UK Government’s draft terms of reference, in which the college raised 34 points it said must be addressed.

These include preparedness for the pandemic; the management of Covid-19 in different care settings including hospitals, care homes and the community; failures in workforce planning; public information and communication and the long-term effects on nursing staff.

The NHS in England said it has invested over £220 million and opened 90 specialist clinics and 14 hubs for children and young people to help people with long Covid.

Its latest data shows that half of the people in England referred for support from a specialist NHS post-Covid clinic were seen within eight weeks, and local healthcare teams were said to be working hard to continue to reduce waiting times.

It added that NHS long covid clinics are designed to offer a range of support to patients with long-term physical, cognitive and psychological health issues caused by having had coronavirus.

The clinics bring together doctors, nurses, therapists and other NHS staff to offer physical and psychological assessments and treatment or rehabilitation for those experiencing enduring symptoms.

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