Prime minister claims RCN pay ask is 'unaffordable' – Nursing Times

‘Nurses have made their voice heard loud and clear’
15 November, 2022 By
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The prime minister has branded the pay increase called for by the Royal College of Nursing as “unaffordable”.
The comments by Rishi Sunak come as RCN members across the majority of the UK have secured a mandate for strike action over pay.
Nurses across all NHS employers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in all but one in Wales and in 130 in England, have voted to strike in the coming weeks and months.
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The threat of strikes follows this year’s pay awards from the UK government’s which saw NHS nurses in England and Wales handed a £1,400 uplift, in line with recommendations from the NHS Pay Review Body.
Meanwhile, nurses in Scotland recently saw an improved offer of 8.45% and those in Northern Ireland continue to wait for a formal announcement amid political turmoil and budget uncertainties.
The RCN is campaigning for a pay increase for all NHS nursing staff at 5% above RPI inflation, meaning its current ask is for a 17.6% deal.
Other unions, including the Royal College of Midwives and Unison, have also been balloting its members on strike action and want to see an inflation-busting pay rise.
In an interview with ITV News earlier today, Mr Sunak said the government had “enormous gratitude” for nurses and NHS staff “for what they do and have done for us over the past couple of years”.

Pat Cullen
“But what the unions are asking for is a 17% pay rise and I think most people watching will understand that that’s unaffordable,” he added.
Mr Sunak recognised that “people are struggling” but said the government followed the advice of an independent body – the NHS Pay Review Body – which he said made recommendations about what a “fair pay settlement” would be for health workers.
In response, RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said: “Gratitude is not enough – it doesn’t pay the bills and it doesn’t stop nursing staff leaving the profession because they can no longer afford to be a nurse.
“No nurse ever wants to strike, but we have been forced into this situation because low pay is pushing nursing staff out of the profession and putting patient care at risk.”
Ms Cullen urged the government to “think again” in its spending statement due later this week and added that “investing in nursing staff is investing in patients and the health of our country”.
This morning some 14 health unions representing more than a million health workers met with UK health and social care secretary Steve Barclay to discuss workforce shortages and staff pay.
Latest figures suggest nurse shortages have reached a record high of almost 47,000 in the NHS in England alone, as concerns also grow over the level of staff leaving the health service for better paid jobs elsewhere.
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