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Fair Pay for Nursing

Learn about our campaign and see how you can get involved

Join us to demand pay justice for nursing staff

Nursing staff are chronically undervalued. Despite nursing being a highly skilled, degree-educated, safety-critical profession, outdated pay structures mean that many nursing staff begin and end their careers at the same pay level.

The situation is critical. Poor pay and working conditions are forcing staff to leave nursing. Almost half of the thousands of frontline NHS staff we recently surveyed say they’re actively planning or considering leaving their job.

We know that when nursing staff are paid fairly, offered career progression and work in fully staffed teams, they're more likely to stay in the profession.

We need members and supporters to come together to demand pay justice, improved career progression and safe staffing measures to address the workforce crisis in our health systems and deliver the recognition nursing staff deserve.

Nursing needs a fresh start

In January, the UK government launched a consultation to explore the creation of a separate pay structure, also known as a pay spine, for nursing staff working for the NHS in England.

Our members helped shape our response to the consultation. In April, we submitted our response.  

Our fight for fair pay

We're calling on governments across the UK to show that they value nursing as the skilled and safety-critical profession it is. Politicians must:

  • Recognise that nursing wage rises have consistently been below inflation for the past 13 years. The impact of this has been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Value the care that nursing staff provide every day, and the training, qualifications, skills and responsibilities required by their roles.
  • Commit to a substantial, above-inflation pay rise, to recognise the chronic workforce shortages and encourage staff to join and stay in the profession.
  • Introduce measures to improve long-term career prospects for nursing staff.
  • Create a fresh start for nursing as an attractive, rewarding profession to tackle the tens of thousands of unfilled nursing posts.  

The NHS pay award for 2024/25 is now late

The government is now late in setting the pay award for nursing staff, following the start of the new financial year on 1 April.

When nursing pay is deliberately undermined, so is patient care.

Nursing staff must be valued. Fair pay supports recruitment and retention and ultimately, safe patient care. 

Fair Pay protest

How late is the NHS pay award?

The role of the NHS Pay Review Body 

Governments can use different routes to determine pay increases. Often governments in the UK ask review bodies to look at evidence and make recommendations on public sector pay before ministers set an award.

The Westminster government decides pay awards for NHS staff employed on Agenda for Change contracts in England following recommendations from the NHS Pay Review Body. Governments in Wales and Northern Ireland do the same for NHS staff in their respective countries, though they are often influenced by decisions made by the Westminster government. In Scotland, for the past few years, we have negotiated NHS pay directly with the Scottish government.

While the process only applies to NHS pay, the outcome tends to set a precedent for what nursing staff in independent and other health and social care settings are paid. 

Submitting evidence 

In February, we submitted evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body setting out our demands for nursing staff. We made 3 clear calls relating to pay and opportunities for career progression to stem the loss of nursing staff and protect patients.

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Sign up to receive regular updates and be the first to hear about pay developments and actions you can take to spread our campaign.

Nurses standing together with signs that say "It's time to pay nursing staff fairly.

Pay justice through job evaluation

The nursing profession has evolved, but job descriptions and pay haven’t kept up.

If you think you’re not being paid fairly for the job you do, you can review and update your job description and ask for it to be evaluated.

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Your strength is in your numbers

Our fight for fair pay in independent health and social care

We campaign for nursing staff in all settings to receive fair pay, no matter what sector they’re employed in. 
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Become a member of the RCN

Join the world's largest union and professional body for nursing.

Join online or call our membership team on 0345 772 6100.
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Page last updated - 26/06/2024