The Prime Minister was warned that she ignored nurses’ calls to scrap the 1% pay cap for the public sector at her peril.
A rally of more than 100 nurses from hospitals and community nursing, and nursing colleges across the south east, gathered in Whitehall yesterday afternoon to call on Prime Minister Theresa May to ‘scrap the cap.’
The Royal College of Nursing president Cecilia Anim told the rally: ‘I am angry because this government’s pay cap has taken thousands of pounds from nurses up and down the country. I am angry because our profession has been taken for granted and disrespected by this government. I am angry because high living costs and low pay have reduced the numbers of nurses.’
But she told the rally opposite Downing Street: ‘We deserve better so today I tell the government do not ignore us. Pay attention. Ignore us at your peril.’
Former EastEnders actress Maddy Hall told nurses at the rally how ashamed she was that they faced financial hardship.
She told the rally: ‘Nurses are the glue that hold all of us together. When the tragedies of London Bridge, Manchester and Grenfell Tower happened nursing staff did not turn away. They are the light amidst the darkness.’
The actress added her voice to the campaign, asking ‘how can it be right they’re getting a pay cut seven years in a row?’
She called for nurses to be paid ‘a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.’
The actress, who played barmaid Nancy Carter at the Queen Vic in the popular soap, later told Nursing in Practice: ‘I think nurses are the most important employees in our country. It’s an utter travesty. Literally everyone needs them.’
Community nurse Annique Simpson described the struggle some of her colleagues had making ends meet, with some taking on second jobs on nursing banks.
She said: ‘I know of one nurse who, once she’s paid her bills, has just £13 a month. She’s trying to juggle jobs.’
She said requests to the RCN hardship fund were unprecedented.
RCN London regional director Burnell Bussue said: ‘This rally will send a very strong message to the government that nursing staff have had enough of pay restraint – a policy that has seen nurses suffer real terms pay cuts for seven years in a row.’
The RCN has designated the summer as a ‘summer of protest’ and Ms Anim urged nurses to tell their patients, friends and colleagues about the campaign to scrap the cap.
It follows a campaign launch last month when nurses joined a protest outside the Department of Health. Nurses demand a ‘right to fair pay’ and are calling for the scrapping of the 1% pay cap for public services.
The RCN is holding its biggest ever rally on Wednesday 6 September in central London from 12.30pm to 2.30pm and is urging supporters to join nurses.