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Nursing and Midwifery Staffs Negotiating Council

Staff Side and Joint Secretary: Josie Irwin

20 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0RN

Telephone: 020 7647 3567, Facsimilie: 020 7647 3409

E-Mail: [email protected]



Unions representing nurses, health visitors and midwives are calling on their Pay Review Body (PRB) to recommend a substantial pay award for nursing staff at all levels.

In their joint evidence launched today (Thursday 6 September), Staff Side (1) will demonstrate the need for the PRB to make firm recommendations to improve nurses’ pay to increase recruitment and retention and to build morale among nurses, midwives and health
visitors in all grades.

Maggie Dunn, Chair of Staff Side, said:

"Quality patient care depends on having a motivated, skilled workforce. It is essential that previous pay awards are built on in order to both recruit new nurses, midwives and health visitors and to keep the ones we have. Health care provision is being transformed in the NHS and nurses are the key to delivering this."


Evidence submitted by the unions representing nurses, midwives and health visitors shows:


Nurse pay

  • Last year’s pay award, which took effect from 1 April 2001, involved an across-the-board, above-inflation award of 3.7 per cent for all nurses. In order to tackle nurse shortages and meet the Government’s targets for recruitment of an extra 20,000 nurses
    in the NHS by 2004 it is vital that previous pay increases continue to be built on.
  • A newly registered nurse is paid 10.9% less than a newly qualified police constable and 10.7% less than a newly qualified
    teacher. Newly registered nurses on Grade D start on £15,445 compared to £17,133 for a police constable and £17,001 for a teacher.
    The PRB needs to ensure that the pay awards it recommends narrowing the gap between the professions so that potential recruits are attracted to nursing.
  • The long term earnings potential of nurses is also less than their comparators. After five years in post, assuming no promotion, a D grade staff nurse would have reached a salary of £17,055. Over the same period a teacher would progress to at least £22,035 (point 7 on the current scale) and a police constable to £21,567.

Non-registered nursing staff

  • Health care assistants, nursery nurses and community nursery nurses are a significant part of the NHS nursing workforce
    . Their roles have expanded and they make a valuable contribution across the range of health care settings.
  • Their pay, which has always been relatively low, is increasingly falling below that of their comparators as local authority pay
    increases during 2001 were loaded toward the lowest paid. Grade A non-registered nursing staff start on a salary of £9,335, while home care staff in local authorities begin on £10,554, a gap of 13%. Staff Side recommends that the PRB remove the ‘under age
    18’ point from grade A and delete the lowest two points of Grade A.

Senior nursing staff

  • The salaries of senior nurses lag behind those of medical colleagues despite growing overlap between the roles they carry out.
    A grade F junior sister has a salary range from £18,130 to £22,865 and Grade G ward manager and community nurses from £21,605
    to £25,420. The Senior House Officer scale, by contrast, is £33,570 to £44,820.


  • Consultant nurse salary scales run from £29,450 to £45,050. The majority of posts on the consultant nurse scales have been
    advertised at the bottom of the salary scale. This means that these posts with their requirements for clinical expertise and
    responsibility still attract a salary little higher than the top point of the current grade I discretionary scale. The lowest points of the consultant nurse scale should now be removed so that the scale for consultant nurses commences at a higher
    salary than the top point of the current I grade discretionary scale.
  • In April 1998, the PRB recommended that staff at the top of Grades F to I should be able to apply for extra incremental points at the top of their salary scale. This was intended to improve the scope for career progression and enhance the earnings potential of staff in these grades. However, the scheme has fallen into disrepute as only a small number of those eligible have received discretionary points and there are substantial regional variations in the way the scheme has been applied. In addition, nursing staff themselves do not accept that discretionary points are an effective way to keep experienced staff in the profession. Staff Side recommends consolidating the two discretionary points for grades F to I to provide increases to these experienced nursing staff and to bring an to end the discretionary points experiment.

Stand by and on-call

  • Providing an on-call service is a major commitment for nursing staff, midwives and health visitors. Being on-call disrupts sleep, impacts on health and family life and may mean staff incur additional costs for childcare. Staff on call must be ready to enter difficult and demanding situations at very short notice. Staff have to be available and so cannot take the risk of making social arrangements, and cannot travel away from home. Staff on-call cannot relax.
  • Changes in recent years have resulted in an increase in the frequency and numbers required to provide this service. Outreach teams in community mental health frequently have to respond to people with psychiatric crises while on call during evenings and weekends. District nurses, health visitors, midwives, and theatre staff now routinely provide on-call services. There is evidence that in many cases this service has been provided without additional payment. The Staff Side is concerned a culture of non-payment for this onerous commitment may develop through ‘custom and practice’.

  • Current allowances fail to compensate adequately for the disruption to private life, sleep patterns, health and well-being they suffer in making this kind of commitment. The PRB should recommend increasing the levels of stand-by and on-call payments as an interim measure pending successful conclusion of pay negotiations.

London weighting

  • Recent research (2) has shown workers in inner London need at least £3,340 per annum to compensate for the higher costs of living in London. The combined London Allowance for police officers increased to £6,000 from July 2000 which, in addition to measures such as free travel, has begun to address staff shortages in the police service.
  • London weighting (3) was not increased last year in line with last year’s pay increase. A single consolidated London Weighting for all grades should replace the current fixed rate plus percentage of salary. In inner London this should equate to £3,340, plus the general percentage increase to be recommended in 2002. In outer London the current fixed rate and percentage should be consolidated at £750, for all staff, further uprated by the level of the 2002 general pay award.


  • The NHS Plan for England set a target of 20,000 more registered nurses by 2004. More recently the Health Secretary announced that by 2009 the number of nursing staff in England is to rise by 60,000, or 17% (4). It is likely that the remainder of the UK will also require increases as will the independent sector (for example private health services, voluntary sector and the hospice movement) if it is to provide services to the NHS under the terms of the new ‘concordat’ whereby the independent sector will work in partnership with the NHS. More recently there have been competing demands from the police service. Home Office recognition of the inadequate levels of care in prisons and the intention that prisoners must have the same rights of access to NHS services as the general population will further increase demand.
  • The Staff Side hopes that these challenges will be met. But they can only be met if more nurses can be recruited and retained, and more of those who have previously qualified to work in the profession can be encouraged to return.
  • More than 150,000 of those on the Register (24%) are aged 50 or over. Practically all of these will have joined the NHS pension scheme before 6 March 1995 which entitles them to retire with full pension benefits at age 55. Most of those aged between 50 and 55 (more than 73,000) will be retiring over the next five years.
  • The number of new entries to the UKCC Register has only just recovered to 1992 levels. This recovery has been fuelled by recruitment from overseas. In 1990/91, 14% of new admissions to the Register were from overseas. The figures for 2000 show that one third of all new entrants to the Register (7,383) were from outside the UK. The Staff Side predicts that in 2001 this will increase to more than half.


Notes to editors

  1. The organisations represented on the Staff Side of the Nursing and Midwifery Staffs Negotiating Council are: Association of Supervisors of Midwives; Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA/MSF); GMB/Apex; Royal College of Midwives (RCM); Royal College of Nursing (RCN); UNISON.
  2. Each year the Labour Research Department updates the Government Pay Board London Weighting index developed in the 1970s to assess the weighting needed to off-set the additional costs of living in London.
  3. Currently £2,365 pa in inner London plus 5% of salary up to a maximum

    of £750 for staff in grades above B.

  4. Department of Health press release, Thursday 22 March 2001
  5. Unions will also be presenting further evidence separately.
  6. Because discussions on NHS wide pay modernisation, Agenda for Change, will not affect nurses’ pay in April 2002, nursing staff are relying on the PRB for their pay award.

For further information please contact:

  • RCN press office - 020 7647 3633
  • UNISON press office - 020 7388 0717
  • RCM press office - 020 7312 3565
  • CPHVA/MSF press office - 020 7939 7000
  • GMB/Apex press office - 020 8947 3131




Shaun Noble Communications Officer ( (020) 7939 7043

mobile ( 07768 69 39 40

CPHVA press releases can be seen on the CPHVA website: amicus-cphva.org

The CPHVA - the UK’s third largest nursing union - represents health visitors, school nurses, practice nurses, district nurses and nursery nurses working in the community in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The CPHVA is a professional section of the Amicus trade union