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'Bungling' Jeremy Hunt Doesn't Know Nurses' Wages

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


‘Out of touch’ health secretary gets sums wrong as he tries to defend pay pinch.

GMB, the union for health and care workers, has slammed the Health Secretary after he made false claims about nurses' pay on national TV.

Jeremy Hunt was defending the Government’s 1% pay cap policy that has driven nurses to use food banks on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (07 May 2017).

He said the average pay for nurses was £31,000, excluding shift allowances and overtime. [1]

Figures quietly slipped out by the NHS on Friday (05 May 2017) estimate the average basic pay for ‘nurses, midwives and health visiting staff’ was £31,215 in December 2016 – up from £29,283 in May 2010. [2]

However, official ONS figures calculated on the same basis show that the average salary is at least £31,900 – significantly higher than average earnings for nurses.[3]

GMB analysis of the new NHS figures shows that, on average, nurses’ salaries have fallen by up to £3,763 (or 11%) in real terms between May 2010 and December 2016. [4]

Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said:

“Jeremy Hunt should immediately apologise to nurses and other members of NHS staff.

“His comments are not just hopelessly out of touch – they’re factually incorrect.

“Nurses have lost thousands in lost earnings under this Government and the situation is set to get even worse.

“There can be no defence for driving public servants into debt and relying on foodbanks – none.

“Jeremy Hunt’s bungled attempt to spin the numbers is an insult to all our dedicated members in the NHS who aren’t getting fair rewards for their efforts.

“Theresa May’s public sector pay policy is even worse than under Thatcher and Major.

“She talks about helping ordinary working families, but she has done nothing for over five million public sector workers.

“Enough is enough - it's time to give our public servants the real pay rise they deserve."


Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to editors

[1] Transcript of Jeremy Hunt’s comments:

Jeremy Hunt: The average pay for nurses in £31,000, which is more than –

Andrew Marr: And it’s gone down by 11 per cent in real terms.

Jeremy Hunt: Well, we don’t agree with those numbers, but that’s – still they’re getting paid more than the national average.

[2] The NHS average earnings figures are calculated for basic pay on a mean, FTE basis:


12 month period ending May 2010

12 month period ending December 2016




Other doctors in training



Qualified nurses, midwives and health visiting staff



NHS Digital, NHS Staff Earnings: Mean annual basic pay per FTE by staff group, in the NHS in England, as at May 2010 and December 2016, 05 May 2017 -

[3] Comparison of nursing and ONS national (UK) average mean FTE earnings:

Mean full-time earnings

Annual earnings

Average pay for nurses, midwives and health visiting staff


Basic weekly pay including other pay


Weekly pay excluding overtime


Annual Pay (Gross)


All ONS figures taken from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). ASHE uses two measures for estimating basic pay: weekly pay excluding overtime (£627.6 per week); and basic weekly basic including other pay (£614.2 per week). ‘Other pay’ includes payments such as allowances.

[4] GMB analysis of real-terms cuts to averaging nursing staff pay, May 2010 to December 2016:


Average nurses salary if allowed to rise by inflation since 2010

Difference with £31,215

Real terms fall in value

GDP deflator












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