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No evidence pay freeze affected morale, says minister

Health minister Alistair Burt MP said earlier today that "there is no evidence that the pay freeze affected staff morale" in the NHS.

The comments were made in response to a parliamentary question on NHS pay by Louise Haigh MP.

He said: “National Health Service staff earning above £21,000 had their pay frozen during 2011/12 and 2012/13 with, since then, most staff receiving at least 1% increases. This approach to pay has helped protect jobs in the NHS and maintain services for patients. There is no evidence that the pay freeze affected staff morale.”

However, last year the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) pay consultation survey revealed that 96% of nursing staff felt undervalued and underappreciated, with a further 66% saying the government's decisions on pay made them think seriously about leaving the NHS.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: “This is an interesting perception of NHS nurse morale which bears little relation to what we're hearing on the frontline or what the NHS' own staff survey revealed.

“The economic evidence speaks for itself. Nurses who are struggling to make ends meet are choosing to work for agencies instead. Clearly it would be more cost effective, and better for patients, to properly reward permanent staff. Instead trusts have to rely on more expensive temporary solutions and are struggling to hold onto experienced staff.”

Davies called on the government to “start taking the concerns of NHS staff seriously” by valuing their work and “giving them a decent wage”.