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Pay round 2013

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The Government accepted the recommendation by the Pay Review Body that all Agenda for Change pay points should be increased by one per cent from 1 April 2013. 

In addition, the recommendations included a one per cent increase to the minima and maxima of the High Cost Area Supplement.

This followed the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in the 2011 autumn statement that all public sector wage rises should be capped at an average of  one per cent for two years from April 2013. This comes after a two year policy which saw all NHS staff earning more than £21,000 facing a pay freeze, while those earning up to £21,000 received an award of £250 in both years.

The RCN and the joint trade unions submitted evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body for the 2013-14 pay round. 

The RCN warned that the double impact of the current pay freeze alongside rising inflation is seriously affecting the living standards of nurses across the UK. We called for an above inflation pay award that protects NHS wages against inflation and addresses the effective cuts in earnings that staff have suffered during the two year pay freeze.

While there is clear evidence that nurse staffing levels make a difference to patient outcomes and the quality of care they receive, the RCN states that the link between staffing levels and outcomes also depends on having a highly trained and motivated workforce. We called on the Pay Review Body to recognise the potential damage caused by the fall in nursing numbers on patient care and on workforce morale and motivation, and warn that the drop in nursing numbers is set to become a deepening, long term trend. 

The Labour Market Review 2012 was also submitted as part of the RCN evidence. This shows that the supply of nursing staff is being seriously threatened as NHS organisations attempt to save money by cutting posts and by the reduction in commissioned training places for nurses. Commissioned places for pre-registration nursing has fallen by nearly nine per cent from 2010/11 to 2011/12. This is particularly worrying at a time when 12 per cent of the nursing workforce is aged 55 or over and a quarter is aged 50 or over.

Four years ago, the RCN warned in a previous report that the future nursing workforce depended on policy and workforce planning decisions. However, since that time the loss of clinical and nursing posts has accelerated.

Both the RCN evidence and the staff side evidence draw on results from a joint trade union survey of members which found that almost two thirds of nurses said they had seriously thought about leaving their job, and a third would leave for a post outside the NHS. The top two reasons for considering leaving the NHS are stress/workload and staff shortages. Two thirds of respondents said morale had declined in the last 12 months, while 71 per cent said staff shortages have frequently occurred in their workplace over the past year.