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Why every vote on NHS pay matters

 Craig Davidson 18 Jul 2018

Craig Davidson gives a student nurse's view on the NHS pay offer and why voting matters.

Nurses have faced years of hardship and been beaten down during a period when services have been stretched to breaking point. First, there was the pay freeze, then the pitiful extended 1% pay cap. Workloads have increased, often to unsafe levels, and many nurses have left, burnt out, disenchanted, and genuinely fearful for patient safety. In addition, there’s been a decrease in student nursing applicants, threatening the future of nursing.

This all adds up to a disaster: for our profession, for the NHS, and for the public - we all deserve better. Nurses deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, just as patients are too. Nurses deserve to be paid appropriately for the work they do.

Nursing requires the essential values of compassion and empathy, amongst many others, but it is also so much more than that.

It’s a degree-educated, graduate-entry profession, requiring constant critical thinking and the use of the best evidence-based practice to protect patient safety and deliver the best outcomes. Nurses are often the co-ordinators of care, and they’re also researchers, educators, pioneers.

This is why I support the proposal for the reform of Agenda for Change in NHS Scotland. I believe the new proposed deal will not only help recruit nurses into the profession, but it will also help to retain the fantastic, hard-working nurses we have already.

The proposed deal is by no means perfect, but I believe, in the current economic climate, that it is a good starting place.

By 2020/21, the proposed deal will see the starting salary for newly qualified Band 5 nurses increase from the current £22,440 to £25,100. This salary will bring us more in line with other graduate entry professions – and so it should.

The new deal will also see a change in incremental pay points. For a newly qualified Band 5 nurse, they will reach the top of their banding in four years rather than seven. By 2020/21, the top salary for Band 5s will also have increased by 9% from £29,032 to £31,649. These are the figures for nurses like me who will be qualifying in the next couple of years, or who are considering entering the profession.

I believe the proposed deal truly benefits nurses at all levels. One of the most significant changes is that overlaps between bands will disappear, something that has been for a long time a bone of contention.

As a student nurse I’m not eligible to vote on this pay offer. I would, however, urge all those who are to have your say. Please don’t be a modest nurse - your voice matters, whether you are for or against the deal. If you’re a student nurse on an Agenda for Change contract, remember you can vote too.

Make sure you do – it’s our future.
Photo of Craig Davidson

Craig Davidson

RCN UK Nursing Students' Committee - Scottish representative

Craig Davidson is a student nurse at Glasgow Caledonian University, where he is School Officer for the Department of Nursing and Community Health. He is a passionate believer in student mental health support, recruiting more men into nursing, and has a keen interest in oncology and palliative care.