Nottingham nurses protest against government’s one per cent public pay cap

Video: The rally took place at Market Square this afternoon.

Nottingham nurses and union members protested and rallied against government cuts to NHS staff pay rises.

Nurses and members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) spoke on the plinth at Speakers’ Corner this afternoon (July 27), by the Brian Clough statue, saying a one per cent cap on public sector pay rises is affecting the health service.

The group called on the Government to restore ‘fair pay awards’ for NHS staff, whose pay has been cut by 14 per cent since 2010.

RCN regional officer Sarah-Leigh Barnett said: “Enough is enough. Our nurses voted overwhelmingly at their annual congress for action. This is the start of that action.

“A one per cent pay cap over the last seven years has led to a 14 per cent pay reduction.

“It’s a negative cycle: we’ve got less nurses coming into the profession to train because the bursary [fund] has been lifted. And those nurses that are in the profession already are so stretched that they’re leaving.

“We’ve got 40,000 vacant posts across the UK – in England that’s one in nine empty posts. That is going to have an impact on patient care.”

The event took place by the Brian Clough Statue.

The event was one of 40 taking place across the UK as part of RCN campaign Scrap the Cap.

Members of the public filled in postcards to their local MPs, including Labour Nottingham North MP Alex Norris, asking them to urge the Government to lift the cap.

The news comes after NHS figures were released earlier this week showing a fall of 1,274 nursing and health visitor staff in the NHS in England between March and April 2017.

Separate data revealed a 16 per cent rise in the number of vacant NHS nursing and midwifery posts being advertised in the past year.

People signed postcards to their local MPs.

Ms Barnett added: “We’ve got an ageing workforce, they’re going to be approaching retirement and if we can’t attract people in, and with Brexit and reductions on overseas and European-trained nurses coming into the profession, that’s leading to the vacancies.

“Within the NHS, to plug those gaps they’re having to use agency nurses and that costs an absolute fortune.”

Healthcare assistant Maive Coley said the cuts are “massive towards patient safety”.

“The student nurses intake at the moment is down so we don’t know what affect that is going to have on the health services,” she said.

“With him [Alex Norris] coming down to support us, I hope he will take it back to Westminster, to the Government, to let them know how important it is to the health service.

“It’s our health service and we’re trying to save it.”

Notts TV has attempted to contact the Treasury for contact.

In a speech at a Confederation of British Industry dinner earlier this month, Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Hammond stressed the need to maintain discipline over the public finances.

He said: “Our policy on public sector pay has always been designed to strike the right balance between being fair to our public servants and fair to those who pay for them.

“That approach has not changed; and we continually assess that balance.

“But we do, of course, recognise that the British people are weary after seven years’ hard slog repairing the damage of the Great Recession.”

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