Creating a separate pay spine for nurses is ‘divisive and unfair’ says RCM

on 08 April 2024 Pay and Agenda For Change RCM Member RCM Pay

 The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has described proposals for a separate pay spine just for nurses as ‘divisive and unfair’. The comments come as the RCM submitted its evidence in response to a government consultation on creating a separate pay scale for nurses.

Midwives and maternity support workers work within multi-disciplinary teams and to separate out one profession from the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay scale will, the RCM says, erode morale and lead to resentment between the professions.

In January this year the RCM warned that changing the pay structure for nurses and making it separate from other healthcare professionals would further deepen the NHS workforce crisis.

Commenting, the RCM’s Director of Employment Relations, Alice Sorby, says:

“The RCM believes in fairness and equity for all AFC staff and does not support the introduction of a separate pay spine for nursing and that’s what we’ve told the Government. These proposals would be a nonsensical waste of money which would be better spent on improving the current system and will only serve to further erode staff morale. Teamwork is the foundation on which the NHS is built on and years of experience shows us it is the best way to deliver safe high-quality care. Changing the way nurses have their pay banded compared to the rest of the NHS is divisive and will do nothing to attract and keep hard pressed midwives, MSWs and other healthcare professionals working in the NHS.”

The RCM has also used this consultation as another opportunity to highlight the career and development issues faced by its members. The RCM says barriers to career progression and development in addition to other issues are not unique to one group of staff. Midwives and MSWs are struggling to access not only training and development opportunities, but meaningful appraisals, the updating of job descriptions, access to local job evaluation processes and structural issues with Agenda for Change (AFC) are all impacting RCM members.

Alice added:

“We’ve told the Government that, rather than dismantling the AFC pay structure, the focus should be on reforming and strengthening it. This must start with improving the job evaluation process and guaranteeing funding to do this. We believe that investment in infrastructure and capacity building in the job evaluation process will improve the retention of midwives and MSWs. Also, the aim of harmonised terms and conditions was to resolve and prevent equal pay claims. There is a significant risk to pay equity, with equal pay for work of equal value being a legal requirement if AFC is dismantled.”

You can read the RCM’s full response to the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on a separate pay spine for nurses here.