'We don't feel valued' - Candlelit vigil calls for fairer nursing pay

rcn vigil

The RCN hosted a peaceful vigil in reflection of the 3pc pay increase pledged by government for nurses. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Nursing staff gathered around the memorial of a celebrated Norfolk nurse to call for fairer pay for their profession.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) branch of Norfolk met at the Edith Cavell memorial in Tombland, Norwich, on Thursday (July 29) for a candlelit vigil and short moment of reflection on Thursday. 

The union is calling for a 12.5pc pay increase for nursing staff after the government pledged a 3pc increase following criticism from across the sector around proposals for a 1pc increase. 

helen oatham

Helen Oatham, Norfolk branch chair. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Its chair Helen Oatham said the NHS continues to struggle to recruit nurses and the announcement left many members concerned about what it means for them, their patients and the profession as a whole. 

Mrs Oatham said: "Four years ago we did a vigil right here at the Edith Cavell memorial, raising concerns about nursing pay and staffing levels.

"Unfortunately four years down the line we find ourselves in no better situation if not a worse one.

"We've got tens of thousands of nursing vacancies across the country and we are struggling to recruit and retain staff and that impacts on the care and safety of our patients."

rcn vigil

From left to right, Beth Park and Katie Harding - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

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The 12.5pc pay increase comes from a staff survey carried out by the RCN last year in which staff members interviewed felt this was a reasonable reflection of the work nurses carry out after pay cuts over the years across the sector.

Natalie Brooks, emergency care staff nurse highlighted the need for vigils like these.

natalie brooks

Natalie Brooks, emergency care staff nurse. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

She said: "We are here for a moment of reflection to reflect on the 3pc pay rise and to help members realise they have a voice and they can decide if they are willing to accept or not.

"It's also about patient safety because the more nurses we can give a pay rise to the more nurses we are likely to keep which results in better patient safety.

"A 12.5pc increase for the sector would mean people would stay and they would feel valued.

"We don't feel valued at the moment after a really rough 18 months and we are more highly skilled than the government give us credit for.

"Hopefully the government will listen. Clive Lewis has been very supportive so far but it is about getting government to listen or at least compromise with us."

rcn vigil

Left to right, Eleanor Bartlett and Anna Llgunas. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

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