Satisfaction with pay has declined among registered nurses and midwives working in all but three of the 24* NHS trusts serving the region and among health care assistants in 17 of them.
The RCN says the falling satisfaction rates are further evidence of how undervalued many nursing staff feel and ‘deeply worrying’ considering the survey was carried out before the Government mooted a pay rise of only 1% for NHS workers from next month.
The survey, conducted in October and November last year, found that, typically, between 30% and 40% of registered nurses and midwives at NHS trusts in the West Midlands are content with their level of pay, with satisfaction rates in some hospital and mental health provider trusts lower than 30%. In only one trust did the proportion of registered staff who are satisfied with their pay exceed 50%.
The proportion of nursing and health care assistants who are happy with their pay was lower than for registered staff in all but one trust. In some organisations, the satisfaction rate among support workers was as low as one in nine.
Lindsay Meeks, the RCN’s West Midlands regional director, said: “Nursing staff are earning less in real terms than they were ten years ago and these results are a further sign that more and more of them are feeling short-changed by the Government for the skills, knowledge and responsibility they have.
“It’s clear and deeply worrying that many nurses and health care assistants were already feeling undervalued when they completed this survey in the middle of a pandemic, so imagine how they feel now the Government insists they deserve nothing more than a pay award below the cost of living – in other words, a pay cut.
“The Government must commit to a fair pay rise to properly recognise the value of nursing, to avoid the risk of more nurses leaving the profession and to help alleviate the persistent staffing shortages that compromise the quality of patient care.”
The RCN is calling for a fully-funded pay rise of 12.5% for nursing staff in 2021/22, submitting in its evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body a report by London Economics which estimates the Exchequer would recoup 81% of the headline cost of a substantial NHS pay increase through additional income tax, National Insurance and consumer spending tax receipts.
* Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is counted in the 24 trusts but, as a recently-formed organisation, no comparator data from the 2019 NHS Staff Survey is available. West Midlands Ambulance Service is not counted in the 24 trusts.