Lewes’ Conservative MP hosted a Parliamentary event with the Royal College of Nursing to gain support to scrap the public pay cap yesterday (Wednesday September 6).
Around 2,000 nurses also protested outside Westminster against the Tory Government policy, which has led to a 14 per cent real-terms cut in the wages of staff in England over the past seven years.
Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, who is a nurse herself, hosted an event in Parliament with the RCN on the same day as the protest.
She heard from frontline RCN members that 455 nurses have been affected by the cap in her constituency alone.
Meanwhile more nurses are leaving the profession than joining it, with a huge number of vacancies across England.
Afterwards she said: “Having worked as a full time nurse under the pay freeze and pay cap until my first election in 2015, I know just how hard these measures can hit nurses.
“This is why I chose to support the RCN by hosting them in Parliament, allowing them to lobby MPs coinciding with their march outside Parliament. I will continue to lobby the Government to scrap the cap on behalf of the 455 nurses in Lewes and all those around the country.
“I am pleased that 71 MPs from across the Commons were able to join us for the event.”
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said “This summer, nurses have shown the Government that they have had enough of poor pay.
“They are struggling to keep up with the cost of living and there are reports it pays better to work in supermarkets than care for the most vulnerable.
“It’s a false economy to keep nurses pay down, short staffing is threating the safety of our patients. That’s why we welcome the support of MPs who are championing nursing and share our belief that the one per cent pay cap should be scrapped.
“Nurses will not tolerate having their pay squeezed any further. The Government must put party politics aside and lift the cap.”
But Ms Caulfield was criticised for later comments to Sky News where she said: “You don’t have to blanket lift a pay cap, there are ways of targeting those who carried the service, are at the frontline.”
Kelly-Marie Blundell, who stood for the Lib Dems in Lewes at June’s general election and has been reappointed as a parliamentary candidate for the constituency in the event of a snap election, said: “First she votes to keep the cap on nurses’ salaries, then she says she wants the cap lifted.
“Today she has clearly backtracked on this message by saying that there was no need to blanket lift the pay cap. Which is it Maria?”
On several occasions Ms Caulfield has explained she was voting against Labour amendments to the Queen’s Speech back in June, and not purely against scrapping the pay sector cap as some have suggested.