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Nurse-led petition urges government to ‘fully fund’ NHS pay awards

Nurse-led petition urges government to ‘fully fund’ NHS pay awards

A petition has been launched urging the government to ‘fully fund’ a pay rise for NHS staff amid concerns that nurses and colleagues working in community services will be excluded from the increase.

Queen’s Nurse Reuben Collings started the campaign after he learned that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) would not be funding the non-consolidated NHS pay award for 2022/23 at his not-for-profit employer, despite the organisation ‘providing 100% NHS-funded care’.

He described the move as ‘a real kick in the teeth’ and warned of the ongoing impact of the rising cost of living on colleagues who he said were being left ‘out of pocket’.

The petition, which has surpassed the 10,000 signatures required for a government response on Monday, follows similar concerns raised by health and care leaders last week.

Leaders, including the NHS Confederation and NHS Providers, wrote a letter to health and social care secretary Steve Barclay warning that unless the government provides additional funding to support the pay increase for staff, some nurse-led services in the community could be forced to close.

The petition urges the government to ‘fully fund’ the 2% 2022/23 one-off pay award for organisations providing NHS funded services ‘to enable them to pay their staff this award, to maintain parity of esteem and recognise the work of all colleagues working to deliver NHS funded services’.

According to the government, all eligible Agenda for Change staff will receive the 2023/24 consolidated 5% pay award. But it said that non-consolidated one-off payments, including the 2% award for 2022/23, would cover staff directly employed by NHS organisations set out in the AfC handbook, which includes NHS trusts, integrated care boards, NHS Blood and Transplant among others.

The government added that NHS funding to community interest companies, charities and social enterprises would be uplifted through their usual funding routes, but did not provide any further information on this.

Mr Collings, who stressed the fault was not with his employer but with the government, said the ‘injustice felt by colleagues is high’ and warned community services were ‘under immense pressure’.

He told Nursing in Practice that while ‘we are one NHS’, the latest move from ministers ‘further drives the inequality, particularly for community health services’.

‘This is a real kick in the teeth for all of us who work so hard for the organisation and more importantly the NHS,’ said Mr Collings, who added that some colleagues were ‘relying on food banks to feed their families’ amid rising living costs.

This ‘divisive decision making should be exposed, hence starting this petition to raise awareness of the issue’ he added.

‘We will not remain silent and are challenging this decision at every level,’ he said.

On receiving the 10,000 signatures required for a government response, Mr Collings, who works in Wiltshire, added: ‘I’m so pleased this issue is getting so much momentum and for the support of the general public. This affects so many people working in the NHS and is vital for the sustainability of NHS-provider organisations nationwide.’

Going forwards, he hoped the petition would secure the 100,000 signatures needed for the issue to be discussed in parliament.

Chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute Dr Crystal Oldman said the funding issue would mean some employers would risk losing nursing staff to neighbouring NHS provider organisations if they do not increase salaries.

But on the other hand, she added: ‘If they do fund the salary increases, they will need to reduce spending elsewhere and this will inevitably impact on service provision.’

Dr Oldman said: ‘Neither choice is a patient centred approach – at a time when we are increasingly concerned about ways to retain nursing staff and increasing the support given to provide the highly skilled nursing care needed to provide more care for citizens in their own homes and communities.’

Meanwhile, Sharon White, chief executive of the School and Public Health Nurses Association said she supported the petition because the situation was ‘wholly unfair and unjust’.

‘There are a significant number of nurses and other health care professionals who are delivering NHS services outside of NHS organisations; they need and deserve the same parity and equality of pay award,’ she told Nursing in Practice.

She added that this was a ‘flawed, short-sighted policy which, once again, will negatively impact the health and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people’.


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