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Nurses on picket line

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 Despite nursing being a highly skilled, degree-educated, safety-critical profession, outdated pay structures mean that many nursing staff begin and end their careers at the same pay level.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

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Tell us your story

How are staffing levels and low pay affecting you right now? How has the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic impacted your work and life? Capture your lived experience with our easy-to-use tool and help tell the true story of UK nursing.

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 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.

Nursing staff at a demonstration holding signs saying 'Fair Pay For Nursing' and 'Safe Staffing Save Lives'

Steps you can take today 

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Sign up to receive campaign news

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

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Send an email to your MP

When governments refuse to listen, our last resort is striking to be heard. Right now, this freedom is under threat.  Email your MP today.

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Get ready to tell us what you think

If you’re an RCN member, make sure we have your up-to-date contact information. Without it, we won’t be able to contact you about pay offers or industrial action.

Latest campaign news

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Visit our Strike Hub

Stay up to date with new details about strike action, learn about strike benefit, donate to our strike fund and more.

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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 - 01/03/2024