NHS nurses protest outside Health Department over low pay: ‘Without nurses, the NHS will fall’

Nurses across Britain have taken to the streets to demand the Government remove a public sector pay freeze, warning that low pay is fuelling staff shortages and risking patient safety.

The 1 per cent pay cap, introduced in 2010, has seen nurses’ salaries rise below inflation – a real-terms cut of 14 per cent, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Protests were held in 30 locations around the country, from Edinburgh to Milton Keynes, while nurses and healthcare assistants gathered in Norwich last night for a candlelit vigil to express their concerns over pay and working conditions.

Outside the Department of Health in London, dozens of nurses and campaigners called on Jeremy Hunt to lift the pay freeze, chanting “scrap the cap” and holding banners and balloons emblazoned with messages to the Health Secretary.

After the general election Mr Hunt hinted he might lift the pay cap, currently in place until 2020. He praised the “absolutely brilliant” work of nurses and said he had “a great deal of sympathy” for the case they have made over pay.

At the London protest, Lauren Gray, a 22-year-old nurse who qualified in September last year, told The Independent “nursing is on the brink of a disaster if the Government don’t listen to us”.

“I feel like there’s no incentive to go into nursing any more,” she said. “I’m worried about the future of the profession and how bad it’s going to get. The staffing levels are so terrible that they’re unsafe.”

Article from The Independent, 27 June 2017.