Today, 15 different organisations representing NHS employees (including the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association) have written to the Prime Minister urging her to scrap the draconian pay cap on our NHS staff. (1)
“The public sector pay cap has forced professionals out of jobs they love…
Those who stay are overstretched and under pressure to do ever more with less…
The longstanding cap stands in the way of recruiting and retaining the best in healthcare.”
The pay cap has meant that there has been a 14% fall in real-term nursing pay since 2014 (2). This is just one of the factors that is leading us towards a crisis in staffing.
Not only is it unfair, it is incredibly short-sighted. Along with the removal of the bursary that enables people from all backgrounds to train to become a nurse (3), the ever more stressful conditions leading to 50% of nurses considering leaving the profession (4), 1 in 10 posts already vacant and Brexit threatening to stop us recruiting the additional staff we need (5), this pay cap is simply making things worse – for nurses and, ultimately for us. And remember, it is not only nurses but other health care workers too, for example physiotherapists and OTs, that are affected by the loss of the student bursary and by the pay cap.
I have been so touched by the support I have had recently for standing up for nurses and other health workers – both in the election campaign and since then when you saw how Jeremy Hunt used his victory speech to personally attack me and accuse me of spreading falsehoods (6). I know that what I wrote in response, where I provided evidence about the extent of the NHS staffing crisis, resonated with so many people because of the respect and gratitude you feel for our NHS staff and your awareness of how vital it is to have adequate and sustainable staffing levels.
It’s time to remove this pay cap, to pay our nurses a fair wage and to start to take the steps to move the NHS back from the brink of a staffing crisis.
Thank you for reading
Dr Louise Irvine