Date Published: 30 March 2007

RCN warns of dark mood among UK nurses over proposed pay cut

News about nursing in the UK

More than ten thousand nurses have bombarded MPs with letters protesting at this year’s pay cut for nurses and other health care workers to date. It comes as the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) unveils details of its consultation with members to gauge their views on this year’s below inflation pay award.

The RCN announced last month that it would consult its 400,000-strong members after the government indicated it would ignore the recommendation of the independent Pay Review Body that sets nurses’ pay and impose a below inflation pay award of 2.5% to be paid in two instalments. By staging the award in this way, it averages out at 1.9% which is less than half the rate of inflation.

With the average wage of a registered nurse being £24,841, this equates to a pay cut in real terms of £570 a year.

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the RCN, said:

We have been talking with and listening to our members and they have told us that this pay cut by instalments is simply not acceptable.

_ Having endured job losses, deficit-led cuts to services and increasing workloads, nurses really are at the end of their tether. The mood out there is dark and despondent with nurses feeling under-valued and over-worked. A demoralised workforce simply cannot deliver the best for patients and is a poor advert for future recruits to the profession. A worrying number of nurses are telling us this pay award is the final straw and are talking about leaving the health service for good.

_ It is not too late for the government to put this right. It can salvage some goodwill by abiding by the recommendation of the independent Pay Review Body and giving nurses their pay award in full in April, as ministers in Scotland have wisely chosen to do.”

Examples of members’ comments on this year’s pay award include:

  • Nurses are the back-bone of the NHS. We work hard and try to deliver the best quality care that we can; this often results in many of us working unpaid overtime. Unfortunately our pay and treatment does not reflect this, and consequently nurses are becoming increasingly angry and frustrated; indeed the majority of my colleagues feel that that the proposed pay cut necessitates industrial action, and would even consider participating in a strike.
  • The government’s planned staged pay award is entirely indicative of their contempt and abuse of the nursing profession. It only confirms my decision to leave behind my nursing career of 12 years and to move into one whereby I feel valued and supported. I will be sorry to leave nursing as I have enjoyed working with patients but I feel that things will not get better in the job and I have had enough.
  • I am a practice nurse who is ready to 'throw the towel' in. I have 20 years nursing experience plus a long list of post registration qualifications. I have always given 100% effort to my role and worked damned hard to get where I am. I am absolutely disgusted by the pay award being offered by the government. We do not feel valued and many of us are planning to leave the nursing profession completely.
  • I felt as if we had been kicked in the teeth when I heard of the government's decision to only give us 1.5% and then to have the absolute cheek to make us wait for the next bit until November. I felt absolutely insulted. It shows no regard for what nurses do and their value.
  • I can no longer encourage people to undergo nurse training anymore as the pay is just not on a par with other professionals. We are expected to do more for less; it is an absolute joke!
  • It seems that nurses are not only having to prop up the trusts externally imposed deficits but also expected to take a pay cut. We have had three demos locally attracting many nurses and my feeling is that staff would be willing to take industrial action as they have had enough.
  • I have worked for the NHS for 30 years. Never had I found staff to be so disillusioned, angry, and morale so low across all nursing specialities due to vacancy freezing, training cuts and increasing workloads.
  • I don't think the goodwill of nurses that has been relied on for many years can be taken for granted much longer.

Source: Royal College of Nursing (RCN), UK.
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