Ministers braced for nurses' fury

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The Independent Online
MINISTERS ARE bracing themselves for a wave of anger from Britain's 500,000 nurses today as the Government insists that their salary increase should not breach the 2.5 per cent inflation rate.

In its submission to the nurses' pay review body, the Government argues for an "affordable" increase in line with the rise in prices, The Independent understands.

Nurses leaders' are calling for a substantial increase to bring pay in line with comparable professions, citing figures of between 9 per cent and 24 per cent.

The Chancellor however is anxious that the pay increase echoes the underlying rate of inflation which has dropped to 2.5 per cent - the Government's target. The official submission is some two or three weeks late, having been delayed by a clash between the Department of Health and the Treasury. Health ministers are keen to introduce a new pay system for nurses - promised when the Labour Party was in Opposition - but the Treasury is more cautious.

Bob Abberley, head of health at the public service union Unison, said yesterday that nurses were expecting "fair play" from the National Health Service.

"They would be deeply disappointed with anything else," he said.

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