New Health Secretary urged to announce immediate and substantial pay rise for nurses

The new Health Secretary is being urged to end the delay in announcing a pay rise for nurses amid research suggesting public support for industrial action over the issue has risen sharply.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said nurses must be given an immediate, “substantial” pay rise, following a wait of three months for a Government decision.

The RCN said a survey of almost 1,500 people in England showed public support for nursing staff taking industrial action has risen sharply.

In May, 42% of respondents said they were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ likely to support nurses taking industrial action over their pay.

That figure has now risen to almost half amid the prospect of a below-inflation pay rise, including nursing where ministers have suggested a 2% to 3% award, said the RCN.

In its formal evidence to the Pay Review Body (PRB), the RCN set out the case for a pay rise of 5% above the level of RPI inflation, which is currently over 11%.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Lack of staff is putting patient care at risk. The pressure on nursing is unrelenting and now soaring inflation means staff are struggling to pay the bills and going to food banks.

“They are leaving the profession in their droves – the incredible financial hardship they face is proving the final straw. After a decade of pay cuts by government, nursing cannot afford to wait any more.

“Nursing is a highly skilled profession and must be recognised as such – investing in the profession must start with fair pay.

“No nurse ever wants to take industrial action but nothing is off the table for our members. Nursing staff may feel they have no other choice to protect patient safety.”

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton (pictured) said: “The Government’s leadership vacuum is no excuse for further delay on putting NHS pay right. The Government is already months behind its own timetable.

“Surging costs are having a terrible effect on staff and helping them should be top of the priority list for the new Secretary of State, not an afterthought.

“Pay is crucial in making sure the NHS is properly staffed and able to provide the care that patients need. Making a proper wage award will show that ministers are serious about protecting the health service and the millions who rely on it.

“It’s high time the Government released the PRB reports to let nurses, healthcare assistants, porters, paramedics, cleaners and all the other vital NHS employees know if the inflation-busting pay rise they deserve will be delivered.”

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