CAMPAIGNS: Judge and Jury - RCN is on the road to curing the problem of low wages

By incorporating the Government’s own concerns about improving the health services, the Royal College of Nursing has produced a stronger argument for increasing nurses’ pay, says Gill Morris, managing director of Connect Public Affairs.

By incorporating the Government’s own concerns about improving the

health services, the Royal College of Nursing has produced a stronger

argument for increasing nurses’ pay, says Gill Morris, managing director

of Connect Public Affairs.



Ministers indicated last week that the Government is likely to award

nurses the 17 per cent pay rise that they are seeking. They are expected

to receive a bumper pay packet before the next election.



The Royal College of Nurses and public sector trade unions have been

battling for more than 18 years to see a substantial pay award and

recognition for the enormous contribution nurses make to delivering our

National Health Service.



The election of a new Government provided fresh opportunities for the

nurses but the battle is not over yet. Any awards are dependent on the

pay review bodies, set to report in January. However, the RCN’s campaign

is a step nearer the goal of a 17 per cent pay award.



What the RCN has done successfully over the last 18 months is to

recognise the challenges and the opportunities posed by the new

Government. By working with other trade unions, the media and by

harnessing public support, the RCN was able to communicate effectively

with a Government committed to delivering a better National Health

Service and a healthier nation - regardless of the purse strings being

tied.



What was new about the RCN campaign was that it jumped up a step from

the traditional emotive arguments about nurses’ pay which everybody

already agreed with. They regenerated the traditional arguments to give

the Government solutions and not just problems.



By making sure their messages married with Government objectives for

patient care and cutting waiting lists, they achieved greater

resonance.



A better National Health Service needs to attract not only new ’super’

nurses but a career structure and rewards for those who work within

it.



The media campaign in the Express and the Mirror helped to create wider

public support and spelt out how the Government could afford to pay

nurses substantially more and still deliver its promises.



The RCN campaign is a good example of how to win the argument but the

RCN will have to sustain its very good lead and continue to combine the

various elements of its campaign to ensure that recruitment, retention

and motivation of nursing and other public sector staff claim the

victory it so richly deserves.



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