Nursing-only pay arrangements are not the solution to the NHS workforce crisis

The CSP has robustly opposed proposals for a nursing-only pay spine.

5 healthcare professions discussing something, sitting round a table.

The possibility of a separate pay scale for nursing was raised by the Royal College of Nursing last year as part of side conversations with the government around pay.  

100 CSP stewards and workplace activists were involved in preparing our organisational response to these proposals.  They held workplace discussions with members, and considered any benefits and risks of the proposals in their workplaces.

The strength of feeling from these conversations were clear – with members stressing that any move to profession-specific pay arrangements would create division and further undermine morale at a time when it is critical for the workforce to come together.  

Such a move would also be a severe equal pay liability for the NHS, with the current Agenda for Change (AfC) adopted 20 years ago to ensure equal pay and fairness across professions and demographic groups working in the NHS.

Members did however recognise that AfC is in need of reform, to address issues across the whole workforce – with members citing limited career progression opportunities in non-managerial roles and the lack of opportunity to move into the higher banded leadership roles that often require a nursing qualification, despite having a multi-disciplinary focus, as examples.

In our response, the CSP also argued that local and national systems of Job Evaluation need a shot in the arm, to ensure job descriptions are routinely and reliably reviewed and updated to reflect the development of roles, with subsequent access to job banding reviews where appropriate.

Elaine Sparkes, assistant director for employment relations and union services, says: 'It is clear Agenda for Change needs reform in a number of areas but measures must address recruitment, retention, career progression and professional development across the workforce. 

'The CSP fully supports the work currently being undertaken nationally to identify the support needed for the current job evaluation scheme, alongside identifying areas for structural reform.  

A nursing pay spine will only divert resources that could be used to make the existing AfC arrangements work more effectively for everyone.

We now await the publication of the summary of responses and government response, and continue to work in partnership with the health unions and NHS employers to address issues in NHS career progression and promotion.


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