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Pay justice needed now: research reveals depths of nursing pay cut

26 Mar 2024

Above-inflation pay rise needed now, as new report shows concerning real-terms decline in public sector pay.

Members demonstrating

Ministers exposed NHS nursing staff to a brutal cost-of-living crisis when they were given the lowest pay deal in the public sector last year, a new report has revealed.


This year, the government has a chance to begin delivering pay justice for nursing staff on Agenda for Change contracts, with a substantial above-inflation pay rise. Fair pay will alleviate the financial pressure on nursing staff and help the NHS tackle its nursing workforce crisis.


Our comments were made in response to a new report on public sector pay from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).


The IFS report shows that average public sector pay has fallen behind the private sector in the last 4 years. By the end of 2023, average pay in the public sector had not grown since December 2019, while private sector pay had grown by around 2%


In the NHS in England, nurses saw a significant reduction in real-terms pay since 2010, falling 7% between 2010-19, with only a modest recovery since. Nursing is one of a number of public-sector professions that have seen considerably worse pay growth than the average public sector role


RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Professor Pat Cullen said this report should be essential reading for government ministers. Nursing is safety critical and in demand in the NHS yet this report singles out the profession for the harsh treatment it has had in recent years,” she said.


The number of people studying nursing is heading in the wrong direction as the government's NHS workforce plan fails to bear fruit. Experienced nurses are leaving for better pay abroad in soaring numbers too. These trends are a direct consequence of the repeated political decisions to keep NHS pay down.


Page last updated - 27/03/2024