AN MP has defended her position on lifting the cap on nurses’ pay, just months after voting to maintain it.

This week Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, hosted a Parliamentary event with the Royal College of Nursing to gain support to scrap the cap.

She suggested the pay cap could be raised in a “targeted” rather than a “blanket” way.

Ms Caulfield, a nurse herself, was criticised by her former Liberal Democrat election opponent Kelly-Marie Blundell, who pointed out Ms Caulfield voted for the cap during the Queen’s Speech in May.

Ms Blundell said: “People are right to question exactly where Maria Caulfield’s loyalties lie.

“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? We need an MP who stands by their values, not one who changes her stance with the wind and the Conservative Party.”

Defending her position, Ms Caulfield said: “The only way to lift the nurses’ pay cap is during a vote in the budget in the autumn.

“I have repeatedly stated that I would vote to lift the cap at a meaningful budget vote.

“Lifting the cap for the lowest band one to seven nurses has always been an idea that I have floated as it would improve pay for those at the frontline and most in need of better wages rather than those working in senior management or director positions on comfortable wages.

“This compromise may help ensure that the lowest paid nurses are giving a pay rise.

“Ms Blundell may wish to campaign for a band nine employee on £100,000 a year to receive a large pay rise but this may risk stopping the lowest paid NHS staff in bands one to seven getting a pay rise.”

In Westminster this week, Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, 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 threatening 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 politics aside and lift the cap.”