Government urged to make extra payments to stop nursing staff leaving NHS

The Government is being urged to make payments worth several thousand pounds on top of salaries to prevent nursing staff leaving the NHS and to tackle a worsening “workforce crisis”.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said an extra payment must be made in addition to an above-inflation pay rise for NHS workers, to encourage them to stay and to attract more nurses.

The union also warned of a repeat of industrial action which broke out last year over pay.

The RCN made its demands as part of the union’s submission to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) which makes recommendations to the Government on wage rises for this year.

RCN strike
There are fears of more industrial action (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The RCN also published a survey of thousands of frontline nursing staff which showed that almost half of those working in the NHS are actively planning or considering leaving their job.

The RCN pointed out that across the NHS in England, more than 42,000 posts are vacant and record numbers continue to quit nursing against a backdrop of “low pay, poor working conditions and chronic understaffing”.

Ministers were warned that record-high waiting lists could get worse if more nursing staff resign.

In its submission, the RCN said it is in dispute with the Government, warning it paved the way for potential action this year.

Recent research by the union showed a “strong appetite” among its members to take industrial action if required.

Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary, said: “The crisis in the nursing workforce deepens each day as thousands of experienced staff decide to leave the NHS, fed up with being undervalued and underpaid.

“When nursing professionals with the greatest clinical experience leave the profession, patient care ultimately suffers.

“An additional top-up payment worth several thousand pounds would recognise the crisis gripping the nursing workforce.

“It is a quick and effective measure that can alleviate some of the dissatisfaction with pay, terms and conditions felt by staff after years of neglect. The policy is a no-brainer for ministers.

“The lesson for the Government and politicians everywhere is that failing to deliver pay justice for nursing staff has consequences.

“Only decisive action can now help stem the loss of staff and protect patients.”

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