Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation, commented:

'Since 2010, NHS pay increases have been limited to a maximum of a 1% rise as a way of addressing the financial pressures facing the health service. Current government policy is that this will continue until 2019. With rising inflation, the impact of a cap on pay increases means a fall in the living standards of those working in the NHS. For example, health and social care staff have seen a 6% pay cut between 2010 and 2017, when taking account of inflation. This compares to a 2% reduction across the economy as a whole.

'The NHS in England is facing a major shortage of nurses. The latest data shows a shortfall of approximately 30,000 nurses based on estimates of the number needed by the NHS. Nurses are leaving the NHS quicker than can be replaced, with the number leaving increasing year-on-year, peaking at 35,000 in 2016. The situation is not sustainable if the quality of NHS services is to be protected. It also puts nurses under increasing stress and strain.

'The number of nurses in training needs to be increased. England has historically capped training places due to the limited budget available to fund them – limiting the supply of nurses to the workforce. The removal of nurse bursaries has increased the number of training opportunities available. The early signs are that despite a fall in applications it will increase the overall number of nurses available to enter the workforce.'

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