A new report, ‘Where next for NHS nurses’ pay’, has again found that a 3% pay award would lead to nurses’ basic earnings falling on average in real terms across different inflation scenarios.
The Health Foundation report also highlights the need for a 12.5% pay award for nursing staff, noting that in a higher inflation scenario, even a 6% pay award would not deliver real-terms earnings increases in 2022-23 for many nursing staff.
Responding to the report, RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said: “After hearing this hard-hitting and independent analysis, it is hard to see how ministers and an independent pay review body could disagree with a word of it. The report is external verification of our positions and the level of pay award we are calling for from governments.
“When they announce the pay deal any day now, ministers’ plans will be judged against the findings here. It shows the profession has seen real-terms pay cuts over the last decade and now inflation is expected to hit double digits, leaving some to choose between heating and eating.
“Anything other than an above inflation pay rise will leave staff worse off, risk an exodus of staff and put patient care at risk.”
The report also includes details on pay inequalities, especially gender and ethnic pay gaps, as well as data which reveals the extent of the ageing nursing workforce.
There are almost 20,000 more nurses aged 55 and older now than in 2010 – an increase of almost 70%. There are also far fewer nurses aged between 34 and 44, falling from almost a third of the nursing workforce to just a quarter over the decade.
The RCN says action is needed now to ensure nursing is an appealing education and career path and the UK must not rely on overseas nurses to fill increasing numbers of vacant posts.
We’re calling for urgent intervention to eradicate inequalities in the pay system, an issue also addressed in the Health Foundation report.
Pat added: “They are right to raise concerns over the gender and ethnicity pay gap given 90% of NHS nurses are women and 28% coming from an ethnic minority.”