West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has welcomed the Government announcement that the 1% pay cap for nurses is to be lifted next year.
The Independent Pay Review Body will still make its recommendation regarding what pay awards should be made across the NHS in 2018/19 as in previous years, but there will be no requirement to keep increases capped at 1%.
Critics have said that yesterday’s announcement actually amounts to another real terms pay cut as inflation is now at 2.9% and rising. Earlier this year, the Royal College of Nurses voted for strike action over the issue for the first time in their 100 year history.
The government announced a 1.7% pay rise for prison officers on Tuesday and the police got 1%, with a 1% special one off bonus although they were asking for 2.8%.
A number of public sector strikes are expected in the coming months.
“I recognise that over a number of years, public sector pay increases have fallen below the cost of living although public sector pay restraint has helped to protect jobs. This has been particularly challenging for frontline workers.” said Mr Thomas.
“When I’ve talked to NHS nurses, the main concern I hear is that they feel run-ragged and undervalued so lifting the cap can only help as the NHS looks to recruit against the backdrop of almost full employment. However, it is not just improved pay that will help make nursing a more attractive career option – reducing the workload of individual nurses will make a big difference and the Government is working hard to address this issue.
“There are currently 12,000 more nurses on our wards than there were in 2010 with another 52,000 nurses in training while new funding was announced last week for an extra 10,000 training places by 2020. This summer saw twice the number of applicants for nurse training than places available.”
Mr Thomas also believes there are other challenges that must be faced to improve the situation for nurses.
“Improved management and greater integration of services is vital and I am pleased that the introduction of the new Nursing Associate role in trial areas of the country is proving successful so far,” he added.
“Nursing Associates, who are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, work alongside care assistants and registered nurses to deliver hands-on care with the opportunity to follow a career pathway that enables them to develop their skills if they wish to progress in the nursing profession.”