Nurses have been left furious over a pay rise after the Government accepted a recommendation for health workers to be rewarded following their dedication during the pandemic.
The Department for Health and Social Care issued a press release confirming a 3% pay increase, backdated to April, hours after ministers had been expected to give a statement in the House of Commons at lunchtime.
In anticipation of the announcement, around a dozen nurses and members of the Royal College of Nursing gathered in Victoria Tower Gardens, near Parliament, where they held placards and banners calling for a pay increase of 12.5%.
Kafeelat Adekunle, 55, a community matron with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, described the pay rise as “mad”.
“I’m not happy,” she told the PA news agency. “They’re not listening, that’s the whole problem. This is just to try and stop us from doing industrial action, just to keep us quiet, keep us shushed.
“I’m not so sure this is really nice, instead this is going to make us more angry and confidence is going to go in the Government.
“The contribution from nurses and health workers during the pandemic has been enormous. People have died. My colleagues died. This is really discouraging news.”
Zoe Grigsby, 30, a student mental health nurse in west London who joined her colleagues in Westminster, said the pay increase was “shameful”.
She told PA: “It’s an absolute slap in the face, to be honest. It’s going to make nurses feel less valued. On my way home today, I saw politicians were describing nurses and healthcare workers as the backbone of the UK, but they’re not showing it by giving them fair pay.
“There’s most likely going to be a third wave of coronavirus and we’ve already got nurses who are financially stretched and now they’re going to be even more so, especially if they’ve got young families that need childcare.
“They’re (the Government) not thinking about the overall picture. It’s not nurses trying to be greedy for wanting a pay rise. It’s so that nurses can be valued and also pay their bills.”
Ms Grigsby, who has two years of training left before she qualifies as a nurse, said some of of her course-mates were questioning if they should drop out following the news.
“They’re concerned they will not be able to financially support themselves when they finally graduate. That’s what is shameful – future nurses are being dissuaded from studying nursing. It’s just dreadful,” she added.