THE Royal College of Nursing has responded to the Budget yesterday.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:“This Budget is intended to show the path to recovery – but nursing staff won’t see one here.

That there was no substantive mention of health and care services is incredulous in the middle of a pandemic.

Recovery of nursing staff feels a long way down the Government’s list of priorities.

They need rest and recuperation and for ministers to fund ongoing access to confidential counselling, bereavement and psychological trauma support.

Long-COVID’ must be recognised as an occupational disease, with more specialist clinics to meet demand.

Government must get staffing levels back to pre-Covid levels as a minimum, particularly in areas like intensive care where ratios were diluted to unsafe levels.

The fact the Chancellor has not set aside money in this Budget for a significant pay rise for nursing staff is a worrying sign of his intention to give a very low pay award this summer.

Nursing staff are worse off than they were a decade ago. If that pay rise is low, it won’t be enough to stave off a potential exodus of exhausted NHS nursing staff at the end of the pandemic – and NHS services will find safe patient care even harder to deliver.”