Today members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) protested outside Parliament in response to the continued 1% pay cap on public sector pay. I met with RCN members from the Midlands to hear directly from the nursing community in our area.
I was shocked to hear that for the first time in a decade more nurses left the profession than joined. There are 40,000 current vacancies in England alone. This is directly due to the public sector pay cap which is forcing nurses out of the profession. Since 2011 there has been a real terms drop in earnings of up to 14% for nursing staff working in the NHS. Two-thirds of RCN members are having to undertake extra work just to make ends meet. The gap between nurses pay and the cost of living is getting even bigger against a backdrop of rising inflation. This is not fair. Our hardworking NHS staff deserve to be paid fairly.
Those nurses who have chosen to stay are overstretched and undervalued – this is having a profound and detrimental effect on the standards of care provided in the NHS. Services are struggling to make do without the services they need. I join the RCN in calling on the Government to #ScrapTheCap so that our NHS can attract and retain staff, resolve the nursing workforce shortage and deliver safe and effective patient care. I have also become a nursing champion to demonstrate to nurses working across hospitals and community settings how much I value their contribution to delivering patient care and my commitment to ensuring that they are paid fairly.