Overdue and underwhelming

Mark Butler 21 Jul 2021

Mark Butler, an NHS mental health nurse and Chair of the RCN's West Midlands Board, reacts to today's Government announcement on the 2021/22 NHS pay award. 

Today, the Government could have done the right thing.

They could have given dedicated, hard-working but exhausted NHS staff a fair pay rise; nothing less than they deserve. 

They could have shown they really do value nurses and other health care workers.

They could have proved they meant every warm word and round of applause they gestured to NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They could perhaps have gone some way to restoring their own credibility after failing to ensure there was enough Personal Protective Equipment for staff and exposing them to unacceptable risks.

They could have made up for inflicting a succession of pay freezes and pay cuts on NHS workers who earn less money in real terms than ten years ago.

Bigger picture

They could even have seen the bigger picture and delivered a pay rise meaningful enough to persuade more people to join and stay in our profession - and not worsen the persistent workforce shortages that jeopardise safe patient care.

Today, sadly, they’ve done none of these things. Not one.

Instead, after several weeks of inexcusable delay, they have shown their true colours. 

They think we’re worth a rise that doesn’t even match the forecast rate of inflation.

That’s the price they put on our contribution and our commitment; their blinkered view of our value.

I know how I feel about that. How do you feel?

If you’re an RCN member and you work in the NHS, please make sure your membership details are up to date by checking them at MyRCN so you can have your say on the pay award when the RCN consults you.

Mark Butler

Mark Butler

Chair, RCN West Midlands Board

Mark is the Chair of the RCN West Midlands Board. A mental health nurse by profession, he works for Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, an integrated provider of health and social care services in Staffordshire and Shropshire, and is the RCN's lead representative at the organisation. Mark is also a volunteer with St John Ambulance.

Page last updated - 21/07/2021