North London nurses: 1% NHS pay offer is a 'kick in the teeth'

The Royal Free in Hampstead and the Whittington Hospital in Archway. Pictures: PA

Millie Simms is the Royal College of Nursing rep for those working at the Whittington and the Royal Free - Credit: Archant

"The government proposal for a 1% pay rise is a kick in the teeth."

A north London nursing rep has slammed the government's proposed NHS pay rise and called on the incoming mayor of London - whoever that is - to publicly back nurses and use the powers they do have to make life more affordable for them.

A survey of 2,000 adults by the UK’s 14 health unions showed almost two-thirds of respondents said the 1% offer was too low.

Millie Simms – the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) rep in north and central London – told this newspaper: "This pandemic has helped them realise that we go above and beyond to provide wonderful healthcare 

"The pandemic has shown that nurses are able to provide wonderful care, but the flip-side is that they are not getting the recognition they deserve."

Millie said nurses locally were telling her they were "feeling overwhelmed" by the stress of the past year, and added: "It was reassuring to see the prime minister clapping for carers, but it would be great to see the government put their money where their mouth is."

She said in London the issue of pay was even more acute than elsewhere because of the high cost of living. 

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Citing an RCN survey, Millie said: "We found that eight in 10 respondents told us they had already decided to leave London because of accommodation costs."

Speaking ahead of London's mayoral elections, Millie said it would be vital for the winning candidate to do what they can and "use their levers" to make life more affordable for key workers. 

Citing ideas such as providing free public transport to nurses and improving affordable housing in inner London, she said: "Whoever wins, what we would say is we would want to see very public support for fair pay and a fair pay rise."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said it recognised the work done by nurses during the pandemic and added that more than a million NHS staff had "benefited from multi-year pay deals" and pay rises including for newly-qualified nurses and junior doctors.

They added: “Pay rises in the rest of the public sector are being paused this year due to the challenging economic environment, but we will be continuing to provide pay rises for NHS workers.

"We have asked the independent pay review bodies for their recommendations and will consider these carefully when we receive them.”