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Scrap pay cap to keep patients safe, nurses tell UK Government

27 Jun 2017

Nurses and health care support workers protesting outside the Scottish Parliament to mark the start of a ‘summer of protest’ on NHS pay.

The UK Government must remove the 1 per cent cap or face a historic ballot of 270,000 nursing staff, the Royal College of Nursing says today (Tuesday) as it launches a new campaign.

Nurses and health care support workers will join protests in thirty locations across the UK – including outside the Scottish Parliament - to mark the start of a ‘summer of protest’.

They will argue that the cap, which holds nursing pay below inflation, stands in the way of attracting enough staff to provide safe patient care.

Pay restraint has seen salaries for nursing staff fall by up to 14 per cent in real-terms since 2010. The RCN will ask the UK Government to address the real-terms loss of earnings in the next pay award. The Scottish Government has already signalled its intention to lift the pay cap.

A recent poll of RCN members found 91 per cent would support a form of industrial action. The College offered the UK Government a final chance to remove the cap this summer before a formal legal ballot on action later in the year.

Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland Director, speaking ahead of the day of action, said:

“This summer, nurses will show the UK Government how angry they feel over its failure to fund the NHS. Protests across the UK will leave the UK Government in no doubt over nurses’ fears for the safety of their patients.

“When NHS and care services are short of staff, patients pay a heavy price. Nursing staff are taking an unprecedented stand and saying ‘enough is enough’. They know the risks of cut-price healthcare and will not tolerate it.

“It shouldn’t be the case that highly skilled nurses and health care support workers are leaving a job that they love because they are fed up of struggling to make ends meet. A pay ‘rise’ that is deliberately held below inflation is in fact a pay cut. Nursing staff cannot be asked to take the hit repeatedly and fund the NHS deficit from their own pocket. 

“The UK Government must put patient safety before political dogma and scrap the cap.”