Labour has promised a 5% pay rise for public sector workers including nurses in its 2019 election manifesto, launched today.
This pay rise would reportedly see a nurses’ annual pay rise by £1,211 while a junior doctor’s salary will increase by £1,384.
The average pay rise of £1,643 across the public sector would restore public sector pay to at least pre-financial crisis levels in real terms by delivering year-on-year above-inflation pay rises, the manifesto document said.
Labour also doubled down on promises to invest £1 billion a year in nurse education including reinstating the nurse bursary following its removal in 2017, and to recruit 4,500 more health visitors and school nurses, as previously reported.
In addition, it committed to putting ‘Agenda for Change terms and conditions into law alongside safe staffing limits for all staff’, though it is unclear what this would mean in practice.
Under its £26 billion ‘rescue plan’ for the NHS, including £2.5 billion to overhaul the primary care estate, Labour says the health service will receive a 4.3%. annual spending boost.
Other manifesto promises included introducing a ‘comprehensive National Care Service for England’, which will provide ‘community-based, person-centered support’, as well as free personal care for over 65s and a cap on personal contributions to care costs.
Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said the ‘bold and ambitious’ commitments from Labour including putting safe staffing into law were necessary.
On the pledge to increase pay, she said: ‘NHS staff should be fairly rewarded for their commitment and professionalism. Increased pay would also help health and care services to recruit and retain the professionals they desperately need.’
In addition, she welcomed the move to reinstate the nurse bursary, which she said would ‘help educate tens of thousands more nurses and ensure those who don’t want to join the profession are no longer deterred by financial hurdles’.
However, she warned that while Labour’s ambition to provide free personal care for over 65s is welcome, ‘we should not underestimate the scale of the task at hand in social care settings’.
She continued: ‘If elected, the Labour Party will have to ensure it follows through on its pledge to invest in this sector’s workforce. At present, chronic and widespread vacancies mean they routinely work many hours of unpaid overtime to keep residents and clients safe. This puts nurses under impossible strain and puts residents at risk.’
Commenting on the manifesto, chief executive of The King’s Fund Richard Murray said that Labour is the ‘only major English party willing to propose a long overdue reform of the ailing social care system’ and said the party’s social care policies ‘would represent a significant step towards a fairer system’.
Nursing in Practice has contacted the Labour Party for confirmation that the pay rise for newly qualified nurses will amount to £1,211.