The head of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called for a ‘seismic shift’ that will bring about fair pay in the profession.
In a message to RCN members, general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen urged: ‘Let’s open the biggest public and political conversation about the value of nursing and tell the sceptics why nursing is unique, why patients need us and how we know why we deserve better.’
The RCN is still officially in dispute with the government over NHS nurses’ pay, and Ms Cullen’s latest call to action comes as the government is seeking views on the ‘risks and benefits’ of a separate pay spine for NHS nurses.
Questions have been raised as to what this could mean for nurses working in primary care, with fresh calls for general practice nurses (GPNs) to be paid fairly.
Meanwhile, the RCN has launched its own ‘listening exercise’ to inform its response to the government consultation.
Ms Cullen said: ‘Nursing staff are safety critical. Services should not run without us. But today’s poor understanding of our value leaves record jobs unfilled.’
She added: ’In 2024, nursing roles are held in high regard by patients and service users, but politicians are yet to catch up.
‘Nursing needs a seismic shift and a new place in health care.’
According to Patricia Marquis, RCN director for England, GPNs have been able to secure better pay by ‘asking and pushing’ their employers.
Meanwhile, GP practices in Wales have expressed concerns about their ability to employ nurses because they are unable to offer competitive wages.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We hugely value NHS nurses and the outstanding care they provide to patients, which is why we provided a 5% pay rise and two significant one-off awards – worth over £2,000 on average for full-time nurses.
‘This deal, which the RCN recommended its members accept, also included a number of commitments to deliver a series of reforms to improve working conditions.’