NHS nursing pay

RCN calls for nursing pay overhaul

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called on the government to implement a separate pay structure and new contract for nurses if it wants to curb the NHS recruitment and retention crisis.

At the start of the year, the government launched a consultation to investigate the viability of a new pay structure for nurses across the NHS in England.

In its response, the RCN highlights that the nursing landscape has changed drastically in the two decades since Agenda for Change (AfC) was introduced and “no longer provides equal pay for work of equal value.”

The RCN’s latest employment survey showed that, of the nursing staff who want to leave the NHS, seven in 10 (70%) report the main reason as feeling undervalued – this is in addition to two-thirds (66%) of staff being unhappy with their banding.

Royal College of Nursing response to government consultation on NHS nursing pay

Nursing leaders are proposing that a separate pay spine would significantly improve the career progression and professional development of nursing staff across the NHS – a concept fewer than one in 10 (7%) people disagreed with among the RCN membership.

Rather than creating a separate nursing pay structure within AfC, the RCN has put its support behind a separate nursing pay spine as part of a new contract for nurses.

This is because it offers more benefits and fewer risks than staying under the scope of AfC, according to the RCN. Those benefits include:

  • Recruitment
  • Retention
  • Morale
  • Patient outcomes

Chief executive and general secretary at the RCN, Professor Pat Cullen, said: “Nursing is not a calling. Or a vocation. Or ‘women’s work’. We are a profession. We are experts. We are leaders. There is an art and a science to what we do.

“This work is about every nursing role. Agenda for Change has lost sight of our value. After 20 years, we are weighted to the bottom of the pay and grading structure, without a clear route through.”

Image credit: iStock

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