Dear [MP Name]
I’m writing to follow up on your email dated [date email received].
The Spending Review confirmed the government’s intention to give a future pay rise for nursing staff working in the NHS, but missed the vital opportunity to deliver the immediate and significant pay award nursing staff require.
As you know from my last correspondence, I am supporting the Fair Pay for Nursing campaign, which, in conjunction with organisations representing staff across the NHS, has been calling for an early and significant pay rise.
In your email to me, you reference a rise in the number of nurses on our wards and the impact of the current three-year Agenda for Change (AfC) pay deal. While the nursing workforce has grown modestly overall in recent years after a period of shrinking, it has been outstripped by demand on health services and the number of unfilled registered nurse roles remains stubbornly high. These vacancies in the NHS, but also in the social care and other sectors, are detrimental to standards of patient care.
Nursing is a safety-critical profession, and we cannot rely on a bare minimum number of nursing staff. Urgent action must be taken to tackle the workforce shortages.
As nursing staff work in the second, intense phase of the pandemic, and we enter a long and difficult winter, marking the contribution and hard work of nursing staff is more vital than ever.
The current AfC pay deal of 2018-21 has seen increases to NHS pay, which you reference, after eight years of pay freezes and below inflation awards. However, those increases were not able to make up for the ground lost and consequently nursing staff are worse off now than they were ten years ago in real terms.
The most experienced and long-serving registered nursing staff, who make up nearly half the profession, saw the value of their salaries fall in real terms over the decade. Registered nurses at the top of band 5 have a salary of £30,615 this year, which would be over £5,000 higher if it had kept pace with inflation (RPI) to reach £36,160. This is a real terms gap of 15.3%.
I was deeply disappointed that the Chancellor and government chose to institute a pay freeze for other parts of the public sector. Many nursing staff across the UK do not work directly for the NHS or on Agenda for Change pay scales and they will be impacted by pay freezes elsewhere. Nursing staff, wherever they work, do an equally skilled job and are equally deserving of a pay rise. This year has seen all parts of the health and care system pull together like never before and to focus only on the NHS part of it would be to forget one of the year’s greatest lessons.
Many of those working in social care and the community across [constituency] have been working on the frontline caring for patients and our community in a variety of important roles and it is important that their contribution and skill is recognised.
As you said in your email – you are committed to giving NHS staff the additional support they need throughout the pandemic. Nursing staff are setting out the huge impact an early, significant and full funded pay rise would have. I would ask for your public support and that you make representation for this cause to the government.
Thousands of people have already signed our petition at https://action.rcn.org.uk/page/70375/petition/1 and we would welcome any public support you could demonstrate for it.