The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has taken part in formulating a joint submission to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) about the future direction of nursing remuneration.
It has stated that it welcomes the lifting of the public sector pay cap after years of austerity as a “significant step in the right direction”, but added that the deals agreed this year for nurses working in the NHS in England fall short of making up for lost earnings accrued in real terms during the past few years.
Although the PRB is not making a recommendation this year, it has been tasked with reviewing the implementation and impact of the latest settlement with a view to informing future decisions.
The RCN has joined other unions in stating that the agreements in England, Scotland and Wales have brought useful uplifts, although it noted that in Northern Ireland the settlement was well short of the three per cent that had been sought.
However, they note that while average earnings for those in the Agenda for Change workforce have risen by between 2.1 per cent and 9.3 per cent between 2011 and 2018, the rate of inflation has been 24 per cent over that time.
Consequently, the submission stated, the next pay rounds - which will be negotiated for 2021-22 onwards - must continue the process of "restoring lost value", the submission argued.
In addition, it noted that the NHS faces a number of nursing workforce challenges that better pay may help to ameliorate.
This includes staff shortages and the pressure on the working environment this creates. Providing a separate submission to the PRB on this subject, the Royal College of Nursing noted that the number of registered nurses fell by over five per cent between 2016 and 2018, with more leaving the profession than entering it.
It also noted applications to study nursing fell by nine per cent between 2017 and 2018.
Written by James Puckle
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