RCN president gives evidence about 'critical' issue of nurse pay – Nursing Times

‘This is a situation that cannot go on indefinitely’
24 May, 2022 By
Source:&nbsp Parliament TV
Improving pay for nurses is “absolutely critical” to help address retention problems in the profession, the president of the Royal College of Nursing has told MPs.
Giving evidence this morning to the Health and Social Care Select Committee, Dr Denise Chaffer said there were nurses struggling to pay their rent and some were relying on foodbanks.
During the session, which focussed on recruitment, training and retention in health and social care, Dr Chaffer said retention was currently a “huge problem” in nursing, alongside the 10% vacancy rate.
She cited recent Nursing and Midwifery Council figures that showed that more than 25,000 nurses had left the register in 2021-22 – the first time in recent years that leaver numbers have increased.
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Asked by committee chair and former Conservative health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, what could be done to improve retention, Dr Chaffer said pay was a key issue.
She said: “We have nurses who are unable to pay their rent, afford their petrol to get to work, and they’re unable to get a mortgage.
“I’ve got a number of members who we’ve spoken to who just cannot get a mortgage, that they are relying on foodbanks.
“Clearly pay is absolutely critical and we can’t move away from that.”
“I think the worst thing for any of us as nurses is working when we’ve not got safe staffing levels”
Denise Chaffer
Due to its connections with retention, pay was a patient safety issue, as well as about ensuring nurses felt “valued and supported”, Dr Chaffer told the committee, which is made up of a cross-party group of MPs.
“I think the worst thing for any of us as nurses is working when we’ve not got safe staffing levels,” added Dr Chaffer.
“And we’re in a circular problem, because we need to pay nurses to keep them to have safe staffing levels to keep the patients safe. So it’s absolutely a top priority.”
She said pay had been “behind the curve” in nursing for “some time” and there now needed to be “catch up”. “We can’t afford not to address this,” she stressed.
Nurses in the NHS are still waiting to hear what their 2022-23 pay rise will be due to delays in the Agenda for Change pay review process for the second year in a row.
The government has already indicated that a 3% pay uplift for this financial year is all it can afford, but this figure has been condemned by unions.
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Tomorrow, Unison is holding a day of action in England to call on the government to “put NHS pay right” and grant a wage rise that goes above spiralling inflation rates.
Meanwhile, the select committee meeting today also heard how work was going on to review nursing pay structures in the NHS.
During a later panel session, Mr Hunt questioned representatives from NHS Employers, NHS England, and Health Education England on the issue of nurse pay.
He said the RCN had submitted evidence to the committee saying that Agenda for Change needed an “urgent review” because it was “frequently out of step with the reality of the skills, knowledge and accountability of the safety critical roles that nursing staff deliver”.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said in response: “There is a process that we’re following with all the trade unions to review the particular issues that the RCN have raised about the profiles for nursing, and so that’s underway.”
He said his organisation was of the view that the government needed to “invest more” in graduate entry roles in the health service, of which nursing is the largest one.
It comes after the NHS Pay Review Body made a recommendation last year for a review into whether Agenda for Change “accurately reflects” the contributions of nurses.
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Under current Agenda for Change structures, a newly qualified nurse entering the NHS at band 5 will earn £25,655, while an experienced clinical nurse specialist at the top of band 7 will get £45,839.
The Department of Health and Social Care told Nursing Times it had no update on when the 2022-23 pay deal would be announced.
However, a spokesperson said: “We hugely value and appreciate all our NHS staff.
“NHS staff received a 3% pay rise last year, despite a public sector pay freeze, which has increased nurses’ pay by £1,000 on average and we are giving NHS workers another pay rise this year.
“No decisions have been made, and we will carefully consider all pay recommendations this summer once the pay review bodies’ final reports are submitted.”
Nurses all around the world are under valued and taken advantage of by their respective governments. We get lip service and crap pay. The UK government is no different. Give nurses and recruited international nurses the pay they deserve. We work too hard and constantly give of our time, love,effort, knowledge with no tangible rewards. It is high time we get more than a round of applause. We need a proper wage so we are not forced to work incessant overtime to have an affordable life. No one tell government ministers to work overtime if they need money to buy food, pay rent and go on a decent vacation. Then why should we be told to work extra shifts in order to have a somewhat decent life??????
Don’t hold your breath, folks. Nothing will change. If you are thinking of becoming a nurse, think again, or be condemned to a life of financial struggle. If going ahead, start a notebokk of excuses to give your family and kids why they can’t have this or that when other kids and families do, or why the house is so cold, etc…
Is this pay fight actually for nurses, AHPs, porters, technical staff and HCAs as it always includes admin who are still WFH in many cases. Im tired of paying fees for other
Is this pay fight actually for nurses, AHPs, porters, technical staff and HCAs as it always includes admin who are still WFH in many cases. Im tired of paying fees for a nursing union when other professionals who dont psy or fight, benefit. Please stop saying nurses pay if its for all the NHS staff
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