Ministers back rise to recruit nurses

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THE IMAGE of nursing is now so poor and the difficulties of recruiting nurses so great that an increase in starting pay is essential, the Government has acknowledged.

In evidence to the nurse's pay review body, published yesterday, ministers say improvements in starting pay should take priority with a rise in London weighting, reflecting the particular difficulties in the capital. A survey last week showed London hospitals were short of 4,800 nurses.

A spokesman for the health department denied reports that the Government was seeking to limit the pay rise to inflation, currently 2.5 per cent, which is the Government's target.

Nursing organisations reacted cautiously. Christine Hancock, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "The news that nurses on the first rung of their career may receive extra money is good news, but of course we want to see a major boost to all nurses' pay."

The independent pay review bodies for nurses and doctors will make their recommendations on pay in the new year.