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
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
A better National Health Service needs to attract not only new ’super’
nurses but a career structure and rewards for those who work within
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.