To help the Government manage the deficit created by the banking crisis, nursing staff in the NHS have had pay freezes and pay restraint for several years. Household bills and inflation have continued to rise so healthcare workers have, in real terms, taken a significant pay cut year on year.

This year the Government has reneged on their promise to award all nursing staff a modest cost of living one per cent pay rise from April 2014. This decision goes against the recommendation made by the Independent Pay Review Body on NHS pay, after it considered evidence provided by the Government, as well as staff organisations and employers. In the South West it is already difficult for hospitals and community services to recruit.

We know that nurses feel undervalued by the Government and many are considering leaving the profession. If this happens then we will not have enough nurses to deliver the care that patients need.The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) South West region took part in a national day of action in June to raise public awareness of the Government’s failure to honour their pay commitment to nursing staff. We really valued the support and interest we received from members of the public. I heard some very moving stories about the wonderful care that people had received from nurses, and they made it very clear that the Government’s refusal to implement a modest one per cent pay increase to all hard working health care staff is totally unacceptable.

Last month two regional representatives of the RCN, with nursing staff from across England, attended Westminster to talk to MPs about the effect the Government’s decision is having on our health community. We have spoken to MPs individually, and I would like to ask your readers to support the RCN in raising their concerns by visiting our website, where they can identify their MP and use a template letter to contact them:

Jeannette Martin, Regional Director, Royal College of Nursing, South West Region.