‘Final wake up call’ on NHS pay as increasing number o...

‘Final wake up call’ on NHS pay as increasing number of nurses leave

02 November 2017

The increasing number of nurses leaving the health service should be ‘the final wake-up’ call for chancellor Philip Hammond to loosen the purse strings in this month’s budget.

Unite, the country’s largest union with 100,00 members in the health service, was commenting on today’s (Thursday 2 November) figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) that revealed there is an increase in the number of nurses leaving its register over the last 12 months.

The NMC figures come amidst reports that Philip Hammond wants any increase to NHS funding, which could be announced in the budget on 22 November, tied to higher productivity.

Unite head of health Sarah Carpenter said: “The disturbing NMC findings are further evidence, if more were needed, that the NHS needs a massive cash injection, with a large tranche earmarked for a generous pay rise for staff.

“The NHS has been buffeted by austerity-driven cuts and services are at breaking point – since 2010 the majority of the NHS workforce has seen their pay packets eroded by at least 14 per cent in real terms.

“This is not the time for the chancellor to indulge in clever accounting tricks linked to so-called ‘productivity’ savings. This is the final wake-up call on NHS pay to staunch the rapidly increasing exodus of highly skilled staff.

“And it should not be forgotten that pay for nurses, health visitors and midwives is the remit of the independent pay review body (PRB). Its recommendations should be honoured and fully funded by the Treasury.”  

Unite lead professional officer for regulation Jane Beach said: “What the NMC is reporting is a major concern for the nursing profession and for patient safety.

“Health secretary Jeremy Hunt keeps repeating the mantra that there are more nurses which does not add up.

“With the increase in workloads, those who can retire are doing so as soon as they can and many others are leaving to work in other areas.

“Our nurse members tell us that they are struggling to manage financially and Unite branches have had to make emergency payments so registered nurses can make ends meet.

“It is time to show respect to the nursing profession by paying them what they are worth, as well as immediately restoring the bursary for those graduates training to be nurses.”

Unite lead professional officer for strategy Obi Amadi said: “The NMC reported the numbers of nurses falling in July and having this negative trend reinforced by these latest figures, just before winter pressures on the NHS kick in, means the need for action is urgent as we can’t afford to lose more staff.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.