Here’s exactly what Nadine Dorries said on Woman’s Hour about nurses’ salaries

25 March 2021
What was claimed

Health minister Nadine Dorries said nurses would understand and accept a 1% pay rise because they have husbands and partners bringing in salaries.

Our verdict

This is not exactly what she said, although she did refer to the husbands and partners of nurses in a discussion about the pay rise.

A widely-shared tweet, also reposted on Facebook, claims that health minister Nadine Dorries “just said that most nurses will understand and accept the 1% pay rise BECAUSE THEY HAVE HUSBANDS AND PARTNERS WHO ARE BRINGING IN SALARIES.”

This is not exactly what she said, but during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on 11 March, the health minister did reference “partners and husbands” in a discussion about the proposed 1% pay rise. Just before this in the interview, Ms Dorries had referenced a nurse who she said had told her she’d rather her husband be furloughed than get a pay rise herself.

Here’s what Ms Dorries said in full, after being asked by presenter Emma Barnett if she could understand nurses’ disappointment in the pay rise: 

“If I could quote a nurse manager of a vaccine centre that I spoke to on Saturday, this is what she said, I’ll quote her words... She said to me: ‘We have two children in our house, there are two of us, two wages coming in, and one mortgage going out.’ 

“She said: ‘If I had to choose between my husband being furloughed until the autumn or a pay rise, I would choose my husband being furloughed any day because now we have the security that our mortgage can be paid.’ She also said to me: ‘I completely get it.’

“And I understand that because anybody who manages a budget, there is a limit on that budget, and we’ve had unprecedented pressure over the past year in fighting Covid and dealing with Covid on the nation’s purse strings. 

“But it was important that in order to recover, in order to have an economy to fund our NHS, that we did everything we can to keep people in jobs, to keep people paid, and to protect those people’s jobs, and that is why we have to make tough choices and one of the choices was to [recommend a 1% pay rise] and continue furlough. 

“And I do think that most nurses get it, but if they know they have partners, husbands, they get it, they understand that that’s a really important decision that we had to make, and it was also an incredibly expensive decision to the public purse.” 

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