New Health Secretary Sajid Javid should not “insult nurses” by giving them a 1% pay rise, leading nurses have said.
NHS staff were due a pay rise in April, but ministers said they would await the recommendations of the body which reviews pay.
Feedback from the NHS Pay Review Body is likely to be in Mr Javid’s in-tray, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said.
The Government recommended that certain NHS staff, including nurses, should receive a 1% pay rise.
But Pat Cullen, acting chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, told BBC Breakfast: “We understand that the Pay Review Body – the body that recommends the pay award for health care staff including nurses – may very well be in his in-tray this morning.
“And what we’re saying to him, please don’t insult nurses by awarding them a 1% pay award.
“That just will do nothing to try and hold on to those fantastic nurses that we’ve got in our system, not one of them can we afford to lose, but it also would attract [more nurses], and [attract new] nurses into the system.”
Mr Javid needs to make a “national recovery plan” for the health service, including tackling the nursing vacancies, Ms Cullen said.
“His most important priorities for nursing at this point in time is to put a national recovery plan in place for nursing that addresses the nursing workforce issues – the tens of thousands of vacancies that we’ve got right across England – which really can’t continue,” she said.
“And we did see that through the pandemic where nurses felt that they were approaching the pandemic with one hand tied behind their back. Those vacancies need to be addressed.”
She added that the waiting list backlog will not be addressed unless the nursing workforce “crisis” is addressed.
“Vacancies are central to all of the issues that the Health Secretary needs to address.
“And it is to address it pretty quickly because those waiting lists are totally out of control, the people that are sitting on those waiting lists are desperately in need of care.”
Unison’s general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Public confidence in key Government decisions about health has been undermined in recent days. This must be restored, and quickly.
“Top of Sajid Javid’s in-tray must be pressing the Prime Minister to announce a proper pay rise for exhausted NHS workers and fix the staffing crisis in health. He also has to deliver the radical reform that’s so desperately needed in social care.”