QNI Statement on Nurses’ Strikes in the NHS
2 December 2022
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) voted to strike in November 2022 in a dispute over pay and staffing.
Strikes will be held across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in December, affecting services provided by NHS organisations.
The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) is a professional body and not a trade union. As such, the QNI has no role in negotiating nurses’ salaries or terms of employment with the government.
We do however, lead all nurses working in the community. We do this by setting standards of education and practice, raising the voice and articulating the value of the Registered Nurses serving their communities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The aim of the QNI is to support excellent nursing care for individuals, families, carers and communities in every setting in the community; this is impossible without a secure and skilled registered nursing workforce to meet the rising demand of a growing and ageing population with multiple, complex healthcare needs.
We believe that a full review of Registered Nurses’ salaries is now needed, most specifically at entry level following qualification, and the junior years of working in the NHS at bands 5 and 6.
Registered Nurses’ salaries need to be aligned to the levels of responsibility, skills, competence and risk management required for the complex role they undertake. Based on current recruitment and workforce challenges, it is likely that Agenda for Change pay scales are no longer fit for purpose at the level of band 5 and the next step up to band 6.
The successful recruitment and retention of Registered Nurses is dependent on them receiving a living wage and one that properly reflects the level of responsibility, skills, knowledge, and competence they have in delivering complex care to individuals. Nursing will not be an attractive career option if salaries do not reflect the significant abilities, personal qualities and learning required to become a Registered Nurse.
The evidence provided by the number of new enrolments in pre-registration nursing courses this year shows that more must be done both pre- and post-registration to safeguard and grow the nursing workforce to the level required by our citizens. The removal of the nursing bursary in England in 2016 has made it more difficult for people who wish to train as a nurse to do so. Exploring forgivable loans should be a priority, as it may remove a significant barrier to entry into the profession.
NHS employers seeking to hire nursing staff to undertake very challenging roles are being forced to compete in a UK labour market with systemic shortages during a period of rising inflation. The remuneration and terms and conditions that are currently offered are not sufficient in the current labour market and the situation is not likely to improve unless a better national offer is available.
The QNI is a professional organisation for all nurses working in the community and our views are based on our close, daily connections with nurses at every level in the health and care system.