Nurses have hit back at a Conservative MP’s claims the RCN campaign for a 12.5% pay rise for nurses was ‘one for the fairies’.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said the call for the pay hike was ‘far in excess of being realistic’, on the BBC Politics North on Sunday, and warned Chancellor Rishi Sunak against such a wage boost in the Budget tomorrow.
But nurses on Twitter have since said they are ‘highly skilled and knowledgeable’ professionals who deserved a pay boost after ‘10 years of cuts’, with real-terms pay for some nurses still not as high as it was in 2010.
RCN Congress chair BJ Waltho pointed out that nurses ‘have worked in unrelenting pressure during this pandemic’.
Mr McCartney said on the politics show: ‘[The RCN] is a union doing the best for their members and you can’t blame them, but 12.5% is far in excess of being realistic and that’s certainly one for the fairies.’
Lincoln nurse and RCN East Midlands council member Mel Kerr, also on Sunday’s programme, asked Mr McCartney if he felt current pay for healthcare workers ‘truly recognises the skill and responsibility that we face on a daily basis’ or ‘the dedication of our staff’.
Mr McCartney replied: ‘In the main, I think it does. Obviously, we’d all like to pay our health services more – but that would cause more inflation. All sorts of different taxes might have to rise to enable public sector employees to be paid more, so at this point in time it is a very fine balancing act.’
Ms Kerr responded: ‘It really saddens me to think that my MP could be so dismissive of the pleas of his staff in his constituency when we say that enough is enough.
‘We need true recognition and true renumeration for everything we have done for this country and he responds in a manner like that. To me, that’s truly really unprofessional and quite offensive if I’m being brutally honest.’
RCN regional director Sheila Marriott told Nursing in Practice: ‘A 12.5% pay rise is not one for the fairies. It’s about fairness for nursing staff who have been underpaid for ten years and how a fair pay rise would help to alleviate the persistent shortage of nurses.’
Also speaking to BBC Politics North, Labour MP Holly Lynch said: ‘When we’re clapping for our carers, that spirit has got to be reflected in how we look after them, in how their paid and their terms and conditions.’
The RCN is demanding a 12.5% pay rise for all staff covered by Agenda for Change. Along with other public sector pay, nurses’ pay was frozen from 2011 to 2018 by then Conservative chancellor George Osborne as part of his austerity policy.
Other health unions, such as Unison, have also campaigned for an early pay rise for healthcare workers.
But the Government has said nurses must wait until the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB), which advises the government on Agenda for Change pay, has submitted its pay recommendations in May. This follows the timetable set out under the Agenda for Charge, under which NHS employees’ salaries are reviewed every three years.