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RCN calls for NHS nurses to be awarded supplement worth thousands

RCN calls for NHS nurses to be awarded supplement worth thousands
Professor Pat Cullen

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is campaigning for the introduction of a ‘significant recruitment and retention supplement’ for NHS nursing staff on top of their basic salary.

The RCN made the case for an additional payment of ‘at least several thousand’ in its formal submission of evidence to the NHS pay review body (PRB), which makes recommendations to the government on wage rises each year.

According to the union, the supplement should be paid in addition to a ‘substantial above-inflation pay rise’ to encourage nursing staff to join and stay in the service.

Professor Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary and chief executive, said: ‘The crisis in the nursing workforce deepens each day as thousands of experienced staff decide to leave the NHS, fed up with being undervalued and underpaid.’

According to Professor Cullen, a pay enhancement worth several thousand pounds is a ‘no-brainer for ministers’ as it represents ‘a quick and effective measure that can alleviate some of the dissatisfaction with pay, terms and conditions felt by staff after years of neglect’.

A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said the government would ‘carefully consider’ the PRB’s recommendations in determining pay uplifts for NHS staff.

‘These independent bodies are made up of industry experts who take into account several factors including the economic context, cost of living, recruitment, retention, and motivation of NHS staff,’ the spokesperson added.

The RCN chose not to participate in the PRB process last year as it sought direct negotiations with the government as a result of industrial action.

Although the union is participating this year, it said it would be highlighting the ‘flaws of the PRB process’ and emphasised that its future participation is ‘not guaranteed’.

An RCN spokesperson said: ‘The process is only fit for purpose if it is truly independent and makes pay recommendations based on evidence, not the will of politicians.’

Earlier this month, the union called on the government to find ‘urgent’ funds to provide the full 6% pay rise general practice staff were promised last summer.

According to an RCN survey of almost 1,500 nursing staff employed by GP practices, more than three-quarters (77%) did not receive the full 6% and almost half (44%) received no pay rise at all for 2023/24.

Only one in five (20%) received a pay award of 6%, and among those who did, 19% did not receive back pay to April 2023.

The RCN has written to the government to demand action on the situation and submitted evidence to the spring budget.

Meanwhile, the government is currently seeking views on the ‘risks and benefits’ of a separate pay spine for NHS nurses.

Questions have been raised over what a potential new pay structure for nurses working in the NHS would mean for those in primary care and has sparked fresh calls for ‘fair pay’ for general practice nurses.

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