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Pay restraint is hurting everyone

 Cecilia Anim CBE 28 Mar 2017 Cecilia Anim

The Government's decision hurts nursing staff and the excellent patient care they are desperately trying to uphold.

Cecilia Anim
Our hopes for a change in government policy were dashed when Jeremy Hunt addressed the CNO Summit earlier this month:

“The priority is to increase the number of nurses, not their pay or CPD,” said a Secretary of State out of touch with thousands of nursing staff, and seemingly intent on pushing their goodwill to the absolute limit.

What Jeremy Hunt and his government have announced today is more of the same: more real-terms pay cuts, more nurse vacancies to add to 24,000 in the U.K already; and more indication that, in their view, it's frontline staff who should pay the price for mismanagement of NHS finances. 

These are testing times when the man in charge of our health service cannot see the link between increasing nurse numbers and retaining current staff who, for six years or more, have seen their salaries disintegrate.

And for staff in the line of fire, it can be difficult to articulate what a 14% real terms fall in salary actually means to them, their families and their quality of life. After all, what's 14% of something you never had in the first place?

The truth is that pay restraint is hurting everyone; health care support workers; new entrants into nursing; experienced professionals applying for emergency financial support who have never seen their pay squeezed so tightly, or wards so overrun, because there simply aren't enough staff, or beds, or funding for social care.

The bottom line is that by failing to address pay today, the government has stacked up problems for the future - problems that are getting more and more expensive to fix. 

And every missed opportunity, like today, deals another blow to hardworking staff, and to the excellent patient care they are desperately trying to uphold for their patients.

Cecilia Anim

Cecilia Anim CBE

RCN President


Cecilia works as a clinical nurse specialist in sexual and reproductive health in London and specialises in family planning and aspects of women's health. She was elected RCN President in 2015, having been a member for more than 30 years, and made a CBE in the 2017 New Year honours.

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