'Barely the cost of a cup of coffee' - nurses in Mansfield and Ashfield unhappy at three per cent pay offer, say unions
Nurses at King’s Mill Hospital have reacted with dismay to the government’s offer of a pay rise amounting to only three per cent.
The rise, which applies to all NHS staff, will be backdated to April after a previous pay-freeze, and should mean an additional £1,000 a year for a nurse in the average wage bracket.
But critics, including the local branch of the largest nursing union, have described it as a slap in the face, considering the efforts of staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
King’s Mill is run by the Sherwood Forest NHS Trust, which also operates Mansfield Community Hospital and Newark Hospital.
The trust employs 4,500 staff, and several hundred of them, from nurses to healthcare assistants, are members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Teresa Budrey, regional director of the RCN in the East Midlands, said: “A pay award that was already overdue has now turned into a very underwhelming one.
"Three per cent is lower than the forecast rate of inflation, so it’s effectively a real-terms pay cut.
"For someone who has been a registered nurse for two years or so, this pay award equates to an extra 40p an hour before tax and National Insurance deductions – barely the cost of one cup of coffee a day.”
The RCN also feels the pay award could damage the NHS as a whole, as well as patient care.
Teresa added: "We understand that public finances are tight, but our claim is for a fair pay rise. The government is failing to see the big picture that the NHS doesn’t have enough nurses, with 7,500 vacancies in the Midlands alone.
"A more meaningful pay-rise would help to persuade more people to join the profession and encourage those thinking of leaving to stay.
"Instead, this announcement risks worsening the persistent workforce shortages that jeopardise the delivery of safe patient-care.”
At national level, the union, which called for a 12.5 per cent increase, has said nurses might now consider industrial action.
The Sherwood Forest Trust would not comment about the pay offer, but the government felt it was fair and recognised NHS staff “for their pandemic contribution during an unprecedented year”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid pointed out that the three per cent figure was arrived at after recommendations by independent pay-review bodies.