The recent suggestion by health secretary Jeremy Hunt that any pay rise for nurses will be linked to improved productivity in the NHS is ‘not credible’.
In a joint report on the state of health and social care funding, the King’s Fund, the Health Foundation and Nuffield Health insist that a pay rise for nurses must instead be funded by the Government, or ‘NHS employers will be forced to choose between overspending their budgets and employing fewer staff’.
They estimate that a pay rise in line with projected inflation – forecast to be 2.2% in 2018/19 and 2% the year after – would cost the NHS £600m and more than £1b, respectively.
But the report adds that removal of the pay cap is not enough to solve the nursing shortfall, and that ‘further action is needed to address more fundamental issues around work-life balance and morale’.
RCN chief executive Janet Davies said the onus was on the Government to stop the exodus of nurses.
She said: ‘If [Chancellor] Philip Hammond wants to stop tens of thousands more heading for the door, he must give the NHS the funds for a pay rise above the level of inflation – the NHS is adamant it cannot be found from existing budgets or further cuts to services. Independent analysis by the IPPR shows that the Treasury benefits from an inflation level rise through increased tax take, reductions to in-work benefits and wider economic growth.’