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Nursing union calls for 'above inflation' pay rise

Nurses have “endured” a real terms pay cut of up to 9% in the past two years, it is claimed.

In its submission to the NHS Pay Review Body, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called for an above inflation pay award to “protect” NHS wages against inflation.

The union also warned that staffing cuts coupled with the NHS reforms are leading to mounting concerns about the quality of patient care as well as damaging staff morale and motivation.

Furthermore, it claims the drop in nursing numbers is set to become a deepening, long-term trend. 

“There's no doubt that many nurses are really struggling, both financially and in the workplace,” said Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN.

“On a daily basis, they are telling us they do not have enough staff to deliver good quality care. Demand for services is rising, however posts are being cut, and amid the backdrop of a two year pay freeze this is a recipe for a completely demoralised workforce. We also believe that the impact of inflation and the pay freeze has taken a damaging toll on the living standards of our members.

“We call on the Pay Review Body to acknowledge the impact of shrinking nursing numbers and the NHS reorganisation on patient care and on workforce morale. We urge them to make a recommendation to raise NHS pay rates that both protects their real value and makes a significant contribution to addressing the major deterioration in NHS earnings over the last two years.”

A joint Staff Side survey of NHS trade union members found almost two thirds of nurses said they had “seriously thought” about leaving their job, and a third would leave for a post outside the NHS.

The top two reasons for considering leaving the NHS are stress/workload (80%) and staff shortages (67%).

Adding to this, according to the RCN's annual Labour Market Review, commissioned places for pre-registration nursing has fallen almost 9% from 2010/11 to 2011/12.