I’m making the case why nurses and support workers deserve a meaningful pay rise

 Dame Donna Kinnair 23 Jul 2020 Chief Executive and General Secretary

Dame Donna Kinnair explains nursing pay hasn’t kept pace with the responsibilities of the job and improvements must be made to stop nursing staff leaving.

The Treasury announced pay settlements to cover 900,000 doctors, dentists, teachers and police officers but great numbers of people asked, “What about nursing?”

NHS nursing staff are covered by the 2018 Agenda for Change three-year pay deal until 2021 but the public outcry is testament to the support behind our profession.

What’s more important than the technical arrangement is that we are demanding fair pay for nursing now.

The RCN and 13 other health unions are calling on the government to start discussions for an early and meaningful pay rise. Nursing staff deserve better than to be told to wait until 2021.

Our discussions with government are only just beginning.

Politicians across the UK will hear us make the clear case for why nurses and support workers deserve a meaningful pay rise. I have made it clear why this can’t wait another year.

Most of all, have no doubt, any final pay offer or award will be fully consulted with our membership.

Recently you told us that more and more of you are thinking of leaving nursing – a third according to our latest survey. A devastating truth, it will see professionals taking twenty years of clinical knowledge and experience out the door with them.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of politicians but it’s time to match the warm words with the improvements. You’ve said these changes will keep you in the profession to which you have devoted yourself.

Among these improvements is nursing pay which hasn’t kept pace with the education required to do the job and its clinical responsibilities.

This isn’t only true in the NHS; a key part of the new strategy our Council is developing for the independent health and social care sector is improving pay and conditions for those members too.

Politicians need to feel the pressure to make the next NHS pay award a big one – an increase that makes a difference to the lives of those receiving it and one that leaves them in no doubt the government values their work.

Further reading

More information on pay

Read our member briefing (PDF)


Dame Donna Kinnair

Dame Donna Kinnair

Chief Executive & General Secretary

Prior to her appointment as Acting Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dame Donna was Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice and worked with UK-wide RCN staff to drive and implement RCN professional nursing, policy and practice strategy.

Before joining the RCN, Donna held various roles, including Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.
Donna advised the PM’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in 2010 and served as nurse/child health assessor to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry.

Page last updated - 11/12/2020