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The News Line: News SMASH 1% PAY CAP! 40,000 nursing vacancies in NHS
Nurses marching to defend the NHS demanding the 1% pay cap be scrapped
THERE are not enough nurses to provide safe patient care, shows a survey released today to coincide with a mass lunchtime demonstration outside the House of Commons of more than 2,000 nurses demanding ‘Lift the 1% pay cap!’

Members of the RCN are taking a day of leave from the NHS front-line across the UK to join the protest, which begins at 12.30pm, and will also be addressed by actor Tony Robinson and comedian Rob Delaney.

In a survey for the Royal College of Nursing, seven in 10 voters told YouGov that the NHS now lacks adequate nursing staff. A similar proportion believes nurses are underpaid for their work, including a majority of Conservative voters.

The nursing union is calling on the government to scrap the pay cap, which stands in the way of hiring and keeping enough nurses in the NHS. Years of pay freezes and below-inflation increases from the Treasury have seen nursing pay fall by 14 per cent in real-terms since 2010, now worth £3,000 per year.

In England, there are 40,000 nursing vacancies, leaving health and care services without safe and effective staffing. Earlier this year, the Nursing and Midwifery Council said that the nursing profession was shrinking as more people leave their official register than join it.

According to the research:
• 72 per cent said there are too few nurses to provide safe care to patients;
• 68 per cent said nurses are underpaid, including 58 per cent of those who voted Conservative in June’s general election;
• 57 per cent of the public are willing to pay more tax to make the NHS safer – including a majority of Tory voters too.

In May, over 50,000 members of the RCN voted in a poll on pay. Nine-in-ten said they would support industrial action short of a strike and almost eight-in-ten said they are prepared to go on strike if the pay cap is not lifted.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The public can see the shortage of nurses for themselves. Ministers are significantly out of touch with public opinion. They should heed this warning, scrap the pay cap and help to recruit thousands more nurses for a safer NHS.

‘Experienced nursing staff are leaving in droves – not because they don’t like the job, but because they can’t afford to stay, while the next generation do not see their future in an under-valued profession. If the government fails to announce a change of direction in the Budget, then industrial action by nursing staff immediately goes on the table.’

Meanwhile, new NHS workforce data published this morning by Information Services Division (ISD) shows that the nursing and midwifery vacancy rate now stands at 5.2%, the highest number of vacancies ever reported – one in twenty nursing and midwifery posts in NHS Scotland is unfilled.

Since March there have been increases in vacancy rates for district nursing (5.5%), adult (5.3%) and mental health (4.4%). Vacancy rates in health visiting (7.3%) and paediatric nursing (7.1%) remain high.


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