From Gateshead to Cornwall, Royal College of Nursing hosts ‘national day of silent protest’ after years of unfair pay

Press Release 08/09/2021

Nursing staff will today hold silent protests across England and Wales as ministers fail to listen to the growing anger over pay.

From the Angel of the North, to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Fistral beach in Cornwall, nurses will bow their heads and stand in silence in response to the pay deal imposed on them by government which, with Treasury predictions of inflation, leaves the profession worse off.

By protesting in this respectful way nurses say they are standing in direct contrast to the way they have been treated by government.

Royal College of Nursing members working in the NHS in England and Wales have until Monday 13 September to vote on whether they find the recent 3 per cent pay award acceptable. 

Latest figures from NHS England show the number of nursing vacancies increased to nearly 40,000, an increase of more than 4,000 in just one month. Unless there is urgent investment in the workforce this only looks set to increase.

The silent protests are part of the RCN’s summer of action that has seen nursing staff campaigning across the country for fair pay.

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen said:

“The voice of nursing has been ignored for such a long time and many in the profession are now lost for words at how ministers are treating them.

“They were sent to fight the pandemic without adequate protection and now they have a pay deal that even the Government admits leaves them worse off.

“Politicians who see our members standing vigil today should realise it’s not too late to change their minds – but they have to be willing to start the conversation.”

The RCN is campaigning for a fully funded 12.5 per cent pay increase for all nursing staff, which recognises the complex mix of skill, responsibility and experience demonstrated every day by members of the profession.


  • An experienced nurse with at least seven years’ experience (top of Agenda for Change pay band 5) with a current salary of £30,615, will receive £31,534 from this award. If it kept pace with forecast RPI inflation, the award would be £214 higher at £31,748.

  • NHS Digital data shows that for Q1 2021/22 (up to June 2021), there were 38,952 FTE registered nurse vacancies in England. This is an increase of 4,274 (+12%) vacancies compared to last quarter (34,678), and an increase of 1,192 (+3%) vacancies from the same period last year (37,760).

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