The exclusive polling comes after a number of reports this week suggested that Theresa May could lift the public sector pay cap. The RCN confirmed that industrial action is on the table should the cap not be lifted in this year’s autumn budget.
On the day the results of the polling are released, thousands of RCN members will descend on Parliament Square to take part in the biggest ever protest about nurse pay, which is to be addressed by actor Tony Robinson and comedian Rob Delaney.
The RCN is calling on the government to scrap the pay cap, which has driven a nurse recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS. Years of pay freezes and below-inflation increases from the Treasury has seen nursing pay fall by 14 per cent in real-terms since 2010, now worth £3,000 per year.
In the capital, there are now 13,000 empty nursing posts, the highest on record. London now accounts for one in three of all unfilled posts meaning wards are understaffed and nurses are overstretched.
In May, nine in ten of the RCN’s membership said they would support industrial action short of a strike and almost eight in ten said they were prepared to go on strike if the pay cap is not lifted.
In London, the research showed:
- 81 per cent of Londoners believe nurses are underpaid, higher than any other region;
- 63 per cent of Londoners would pay more income tax to make the NHS safer, higher than any other region;
- 67 per cent of Londoners believe there are too few nurses to provide safe patient care, higher than any other region
Nationally, the research showed:
- 68 per cent said nurses are underpaid, including
- 58 per cent of those who voted Conservative in June's general election;
- 57 per cent of the public are willing to pay more tax to make the NHS safer – including a majority of Tory voters.
RCN London Regional Director Bernell Bussue, said:
“It is unsurprising to see that the public value the work nurses do more than a government that has been determined to devalue a profession held dear by millions across the country.
“Government enforced pay restraint has been a disastrous policy that has posed a direct threat to patient care by forcing London’s dedicated health care professionals into financial hardship, out of the city, or out of the profession altogether.
“The public can see that nurses are underpaid and overstretched, it’s time the government woke up to that reality and gave nursing staff a long overdue pay rise.”