Angry nurses are ready to refuse to do unpaid overtime if they don’t get a pay rise of at least three per cent, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned yesterday.
A two per cent pay rise ‘fails to reflect nurses’ skill and dedication’ and ‘fails to cover the true cost of living’ said RCN general secretary Dr Beverly Malone.
The RCN added that nurses ‘have been angered by the Chancellor Gordon Brown’s recommendation to the NHS Pay Review Body that the 2006 pay award for nurses and other public sector workers should be based on the two per cent inflation target.’
It stressed: ‘The NHS could lose around one day a week of NHS nursing care, per nurse, if nurses are awarded less than a three per cent pay award by the government.
‘A survey of a thousand nurses from across the UK reveals that around one in three nurses (31 per cent) would consider refusing to accept unpaid overtime if they are given a pay rise of less than three per cent.
‘NHS nurses work on average an extra 6.5 hours each week – unpaid.
‘If one in three nurses chose to stop unpaid overtime, around a day of nursing care per week, per nurse, would be lost – at a weekly cost of £8million to the NHS.
‘The survey also revealed that an unfair pay award would lead ten per cent of nurses to stop completing paperwork, and a further eight per cent would go on strike.’
With the pay award decision due next month, RCN general secretary Malone said: ‘Withdrawing goodwill in any form is not something nurses do lightly.
‘The fact that many would consider it reflects the sheer frustration of nurses across the UK, who feel ignored and undervalued by the government.
‘The NHS is reliant on nurses’ goodwill and commitment, which leads many to work almost an entire extra day for no pay.
‘But it seems that this vital contribution is to be disregarded and go unrewarded.
‘The Chancellor must now recognise that the offer of a two per cent pay settlement is simply not enough.
‘It fails to reflect nurses’ skill and dedication in delivering high quality patient care, and moreover it fails to cover the true cost of living.
‘I would urge Gordon Brown to listen to the voices of nurses and ensure they receive a fair and decent pay award.’
The RCN added: ‘The nursing profession is still facing staff shortages and high nursing student attrition rates. A more substantial pay deal is vital to assist recruitment and retention.’