LETTER: Attacks on NHS pay cannot continue

The government's offer to pay NHS nursing staff a meagre one per cent more from April is discouraging, demoralising and scant recognition for their hard work and unswerving commitment to patients, especially when their pay has fallen by 14 per cent in real terms since 2010 and their workloads have soared due to record demand and nurse shortages.

Many nurses and health care assistants are struggling to make ends meet and questioning whether they can afford to carry on doing the job they love.

They have had no choice but to endure the persistent attacks on their pay. Unlike some, they have had no choice but to be ‘in this together’ in contributing to Britain’s economic recovery.

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On every level, their contribution continues to be immense and invaluable.

The government’s measly pay offer only adds to the perfect storm of conditions that are posing a real and immediate threat to the availability of nurses in sufficient numbers and, by definition, to the quality and safety of patient care.

NHS employers are already struggling to recruit nurses to the extra posts they have created in the past three years to tackle understaffing and ensure patients receive high-quality care consistently.

It’s why so many hospitals are currently over-dependent on a fragile policy of recruiting nurses from overseas and why so many are overriding the government’s cap on pay rates for hiring agency nurses.

Nurses cannot afford for this to continue, but nor can the health service and the patients it serves.

Sheila Marriott

Director, East Midlands

Royal College of Nursing