Nursing union chief falls on her sword after NHS pay blunder

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The head of the Royal College of Nursing has resigned after thousands of nurses were given the wrong information about their pay deal.

It followed a petition calling for her resignation over the blunder.

Dame Janet Davies apologised last month after telling the union’s members that they would receive an immediate 3 per cent pay uplift this summer.

In fact, around half of nurses received the boost straight away – with the rest due to wait up to 11 months for the rise, timed with their annual appraisal.

In a message on July 25, she offered a “sincere personal apology” and said the pay deal was “not as straightforward as we said”.

She said the claims that all nurses would receive the uplift this summer were made “in good faith” as she apologised for the confusion.

Why is the NHS under so much pressure?

  • An ageing population. There are one million more people over the age of 65 than five years ago. This has caused a surge in demand for medical care
  • Cuts to budgets for social care. While the NHS budget has been protected, social services for home helps and other care have fallen by 11 per cent in five years. This has caused record levels of “bedblocking”; people with no medical need to be in hospital are stuck there because they can’t be supported at home
  • Staff shortages. While hospital doctor and nurse numbers have risen over the last decade, they have not kept pace with the rise in demand. Meanwhile 2016 saw record numbers of GP practices close, displacing patients on to A&E departments as they seek medical advice
  • Lifestyle factors. Drinking too much alcohol, smoking, a poor diet with not enough fruit and vegetables and not doing enough exercise are all major reasons for becoming unwell and needing to rely on our health services. Growing numbers of overweight children show this problem is currently set to continue
  • Nurses had been told by the RCN they would get a 3 per cent pay rise in their July pay packets, backdated from April.

    But when not all of them received the rise, many expressed fury that they had been misled by the their union.

    Ms Davies will step down at the end of August, the RCN said on Monday.

    Maria Trewern, chairwoman of the RCN council said: “The RCN and Janet Davies have decided to part ways by mutual agreement.

    “We thank her for all her service to the college as chief executive and general secretary over the past three years, and wish her well.”

    Ms Davies said: “It has been a great honour to represent my profession at the highest level, and I am proud of the achievements the college has made over the past three years against a difficult political backdrop.

    “I wish my colleagues and our membership all the best for the future, and look forward to taking on some new challenges.”

    Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, director of nursing, policy and practice will assume the role of acting chief executive and general secretary.

    The RCN said it is “awaiting the full findings of a review into the past few months’ events” and will then “take an informed decision as to the long-term executive leadership of the organisation”.

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