Decision Over Nurses’ Pay ‘Creates Disunited Kingdom’

‘Nurses in England have earned the right to a fair pay deal,’ insists the Royal College of Nursing. Pressure has increased for English nurses to be given their pay award in full after politicians in Northern Ireland opted to give their nurses the entire 2.5%.

Scottish and Welsh ministers had earlier agreed to give their nurses the full rise and campaigners said the decision left English nurses the poor relations.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) wants the government to scrap plans to stagger the pay award in England and instead to implement the independent pay review body’s recommendation to give nurses the full rise.

The Northern Ireland executive decided last night to do just that, and to backdate the rise to April. The move puts the new health secretary, Alan Johnson, under pressure as he reviews the decision to give half the rise in the autumn, which effectively cuts its value.

Dr Peter Carter, the RCN general secretary, said: “We are delighted that nurses in Northern Ireland, like their colleagues in Wales and Scotland, will now receive their pay award in full. But, nurses in England will still be left out in the cold because they continue to be offered a lower pay deal than their Celtic cousins.

“A nurse giving care and saving lives in London should be as valued as a nurse in Cardiff, Belfast or Edinburgh. But, when it comes to nurses’ pay, we have a disunited kingdom in which nurses working in England find themselves discriminated against. This situation is unjust and it’s undeserved.”

The RCN is to ballot its members on industrial action next week, the first time in its history such action has been considered.

Dr Carter said that when the government refused to abide by the recommendations of the pay review body, ministers argued that a UK wide pay deal of 2.5% would be inflationary. “Now, with three out of four UK nations agreeing to pay the recommended award, the economic case can be seen for what it always was – illogical, spurious and nonsensical,” he said.

“Since April, more than 200 MPs from across the political spectrum have given their support to the RCN’s pay campaign and it is clear from their responses that they believe it is just plain wrong to stage this year’s pay award. Nurses in England have earned the right to a fair pay deal every bit as much as their colleagues in the rest of the UK. So it’s time for those at Westminster to reconsider their decision as a matter of urgency.”