Nurses are having to work second jobs and rely on food banks to make ends meet – but they have now launched a campaign to get the pay they feel they deserve. The Royal College of Nursing is rallying MPs to attend a parliamentary vote on Monday to scrap the one per cent cap on nursing pay which has been in effect since 2010.
In that time pay has fallen by at least 14 per cent, according to the union which wants to award NHS nursing staff with an above-inflation pay rate. It has meant nurses taking second jobs, relying on food aid and taking on as many extra shifts as they can to pay the bills.
The Scrap the Cap campaign has seen nurses across Gloucestershire and Britain lobbying their MPs to attend the debate.
Mother-of-four Karon Cross is among the nurses in Gloucestershire supporting the campaign. Mrs Cross, who is an RCN steward, said: “I feel strongly not just about a fair wage but about the impact it’s having on the health and well-being of nurses. We deserve a pay that is fair.
“Generally the consensus is that we’re struggling. I know nurses that do take second jobs. Nurses are exhausted. It’s not sustainable.”
The debate on Monday will take place in the House of Commons from 12pm to 2pm. The debate was triggered after an online petition, started by RCN member Danielle Tiplady, reached 100,000 signatures.
In September, the RCN urged the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB), which advises the Government on NHS staff pay, to recommend a meaningful pay rise for NHS workers for the 2017-18 pay round. The PRB is expected to submit its report to ministers by the end of February. Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has arranged to meet the regional representative from the RCN before the debate.
He said: “The one per cent increase was recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body, which is completely independent of Government. The Pay Review Body notes that inflation remains low while average earnings in the NHS have increased year-on-year since 2010.
“But I recognise that Cheltenham’s nurses do a fantastic job caring for patients locally. That’s why I have arranged to meet the Regional Representative from the Royal College of Nursing in Parliament before the debate to discuss this further.”
Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester said he wasn’t able to attend the debate as he was attending another event in Parliament as part of his role on the Work and Pensions Select Committee and Chair of the All Party Group on Pensions. But he said: “I look forward to seeing what the minister says in responding to the e-petition for increasing any pay rise. I’ve seen as a volunteer in the GRH, accompanying district nurses to their appointments and meeting mental health nurses what an important job they do – and over a decade ago my life was saved by an NHS Glos nurse.
“But ministers have to balance many different issues, and look after the interests of all taxpayers on financing the NHS, and this is an important one.”
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