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The Royal College of Nursing has formally asked the government to use the comprehensive spending review (CSR) to set right what it described as a “decade of lost investment” in the nursing workforce.
Launched in July, the CSR is due to conclude this autumn after which point the chancellor will set out spending budgets for every government department for the next three years.
“We don’t want claps, or medals or pin badges – this time, just pay us fairly for the tough job we do”
The RCN has today published its formal submission to the CSR in which it claimed that successive UK governments had “underfunded the nursing profession and wider health and care system over the past decade”.
“Too few nurses have studied at university and joined the profession, too many have left their nursing careers, and of our colleagues that remain, too many feel overstretched and undervalued,” stated the document.
It added that, in order to address the nurse workforce shortages across the UK, government needed to make sure the profession was “attractive, well-paid and meaningfully supported”.
The RCN said its submission laid out the “moral, political and economic case” for a 12.5% pay rise for all NHS nursing staff on Agenda for Change, as per its Fair Pay for Nursing campaign launched in August.
Other demands included:
- Fund additional student nurse places;
- Abolish tuition fees for all student nurses;
- Introduce safe staffing legislation in England;
- Exempt international health workers from unfair charges.
Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, was today due to use her first major speech since the pandemic to warn the government against rewarding nurses with badges and medals.
She was expected to tell the online conference for RCN workplace representatives that prime minister Boris Johnson had ignored a request submitted to him in the summer by the RCN and 13 other health unions calling for pay talks to be brought forward.
“Some of his colleagues tried to tell us we’d just had a rise. One even said there were other priorities,” Dame Donna was due to add.
“Before they get any ideas this winter, I have something simple to say to Boris Johnson.
“We don’t want claps, or medals or pin badges – this time, just pay us fairly for the tough job we do.”
The RCN also asked the government to use the CSR to ensure nursing staff were protected as they continued to keep the public safe during the coronavirus crisis.
“We will consider their advice when we receive it, while continuing to listen to trade unions and our valued staff to ensure everyone is rewarded fairly”
This should include supplying adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), increasing Covid-19 testing capability, providing mental health support for nurses, and action to address race inequalities.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said it would be using the independent NHS Pay Review Body process to review nurses’ pay when the current three-year Agenda for Change deal comes to an end.
“The independent NHS Pay Review Body makes recommendations to government on pay increases for NHS staff, including nurses, and we will consider their advice when we receive it, while continuing to listen to trade unions and our valued staff to ensure everyone is rewarded fairly,” they added.
The department did not address the other aspects of the college’s CSR submission.