This site is intended for health professionals only

RCN to push politicians for ‘hard cash for nursing’ ahead of election

RCN to push politicians for ‘hard cash for nursing’ ahead of election
Pat Cullen

All political parties will be challenged to demonstrate a ‘clear vision and hard cash for nursing, the NHS and social care’ ahead of the next general election, the chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has pledged.

With an election expected this year, and no later than 28 January 2025, Pat Cullen expressed the appetite in a blog published on the RCN website to campaign not just for a pay rise for nurses, ‘but a big commitment to improve staffing levels and patient safety’.

The RCN remains in dispute with the UK Government regarding NHS nursing pay in England, despite the implementation of a 5% pay increase for nurses on Agenda for Change contracts, along with several one-off payments, in May.

Ms Cullen said that the pay rise was only ‘modest progress’ and ‘not the revolution that nursing needs and patients deserve’.

Since 2019, the NHS waiting list has grown four times faster than the nurse workforce and in the RCN’s last ballot, more than 100,000 of its NHS nursing members voted for strike action, but the turnout did not meet the legal threshold to stage further strikes.

‘Nursing staff are stretched dangerously thin, caring for 10, 15 or more patients at a time,’ wrote Ms Cullen.

‘We must make the case that fair pay is inextricably linked to being able to recruit and retain a nursing workforce able to meet patient demands… we must never forget that things don’t have to be this way. The UK is a comparatively wealthy country and the sustained underinvestment in health and social care is a political choice.’

She added: ‘In 2024, politicians of every party across the UK must rise to the public’s expectations on safe health and care services. Failure to do so will cost them votes and maybe jobs. To save their own skins in the new year, their answer will have to be better than what’s gone before.’

At the end of last year, RCN primary care lead Heather Randle told Nursing in Practice that 2024 will be ‘the making’ or ‘the demise’ of general practice nursing – depending on what action is taken to recruit, retain and support the profession. She said that ensuring general practice nurses are given the 6% pay rise they were promised last year by the government was her number one priority.

Ms Cullen also said in her blog that the RCN was ‘at the start of a long journey in changing behaviours and improving processes’ within the organisation, and that it had made ‘significant progress’.

Following the publication of the Carr report in 2022, she pledged to ‘overhaul’ the organisation.


See how our symptom tool can help you make better sense of patient presentations
Click here to search a symptom