Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced the end of the unpopular public sector pay cap, meaning a boost for NHS nurses.
Mr Hunt told Parliament he has some ‘latitude’ in ‘negotiating pay’, but would not be drawn on how it would be funded.
‘I can give you good news. The pay cap has been scrapped,’ he told ministers this afternoon.
He continued: ‘The fact is that we have that flexibility and I hope that we can get a win-win situation.’
He said the cap had been necessary to have a pay restraint to fund 11,300 more doctors and a similar number of extra nurses on the wards, but admitted that it is no longer sustainable.
He said: ‘But you will be aware that we recognise it wasn’t sustainable to carry on with the 1% going forward and that’s why next year we’ve been given the leeway to have more flexible negotiations.’
He also praised the contribution of nursing associates to the workforce and stressed there were 11,300 more nurses on hospital wards than four years ago.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has staged a summer of protest calling for the government to ‘scrap the cap.’
It culminated in a rally of thousands of nurses at Parliament Square last month, where nurses leaders and comedians Tony Robinson and Rob Delaney, from hit show Catastrophe, addressed the crowd.
The RCN has been preparing to ballot members for industrial action if the scrap was not lifted by the time of the autumn budget on Wednesday 22 November.
Responding to the announcement, Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, thanked Mr Hunt for removing the cap.
She said: ‘Jeremy Hunt has listened to the tens of thousands of nurses who made their feelings clear and we thank him for today’s categorical statement.
‘He has put beyond all doubt that the pay cap is scrapped after a summer-long campaign by the RCN. Our members in every corner of the UK fought hard and can be proud of this achievement.
‘The cap held pay below inflation and gave nurses year-on-year pay cuts. With a staffing crisis building, the Government is right to lift it.
‘The next pay offer must not come in below inflation and Ministers cannot ask the NHS to make other cuts to pay for it – services must be given extra funding to cover the cost.’