Nearly 200 UK MPs, including former government ministers, have joined calls for the government to give nurses this year?s pay award in full, instead of the staged pay cut it is currently proposing.
It comes as the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) prepares to ballot 300,000 nurses working in the NHS on whether they would be prepared to support a ballot for industrial action.
At the RCN?s annual Congress in Harrogate in April, RCN General Secretary Dr Peter Carter announced his intention to write to MPs across the UK to find out where they stand on the issue of nurses? pay and whether they back the independent pay review body?s recommendation that nurses receive this year?s 2.5% pay award in full. By choosing to ignore the Pay Review Body and pay the award in two instalments, the government has effectively reduced the value of the award to 1.9%.
Dr Carter said: ?At our annual Congress in April nurses spoke with one voice that the government?s decision to stage this year?s pay award in breach of the independent Pay Review Body is unjust, undeserved and unacceptable.
?It is clear from the response we have received so far that many MPs of all political persuasions also believe the government is just plain wrong on this issue. I would like to thank them for supporting our campaign for a fair pay deal for nurses and I urge those MPs who have not yet done so to follow their example.
?Our campaign gives MPs the chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with nurses who are not simply dedicated public servants, but voters and constituents too. I hope that our elected representatives take this opportunity to show just how much they value our nurses, the work they do and the care they give.?
So far, 186 MPs have either written to the RCN directly to express their support or signed Early Day Motions calling for a fair pay deal for nurses. Among the MPs backing the calls are former health secretary Frank Dobson, former ministers Kate Hoey and Stephen Byers, as well as Labour deputy leadership candidate John Cruddas. Conservative leader David Cameron, Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne have also lent their support, as have Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell and his predecessor Charles Kennedy.
Other MPs backing the calls for fair pay for nurses include Northern Ireland?s First Minister Rev Ian Paisley, the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond and Plaid Cymru?s three MPs Elfyn Llwyd, Hywel Williams and Adam Price.