NURSES have welcomed news the NHS pay cap has been scrapped but warned it should not lead to cuts.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told MPs he could not rule out reducing health services to cover pay rises above one per cent.

Children’s nurse Graeme Stokes is chairman of the Brighton and Hove branch of the Royal College of Nursing.

He has been actively involved in the union’s campaign to scrap the cap.

He said he knew of nurses who had left the NHS to work elsewhere because they could not afford to survive on the wages they had.

Others have taken on second jobs while some have even found themselves having to use food banks.

Mr Stokes, 37, said: “I’m pleased and proud of the hard work and determination of my colleagues with this result.

“However we know there’s more to do.

“The next pay award must not come in below inflation and must not be paid for by cuts to the NHS.

“We will keep on applying pressure on the UK Government to give the pay award we deserve.”

Mr Hunt said it was recognised the cap “wasn’t sustainable” for the future, adding he was hoping for a “win-win” result after confirming he has been given the leeway to conduct “more flexible negotiations” next year.

Labour successfully moved a non-binding motion last month calling for the scrapping of the pay cap for NHS workers.

The motion attracted support from the DUP although no formal vote was pushed.

This enabled the Tories to avoid the embarrassment of seeing their minority administration allies walking through the lobbies in support of Labour.

Mr Hunt told MPs: “Without pay restraint we wouldn’t have 11,300 more doctors in the NHS and 11,300 more nurses in our wards.

“However you will be aware that we recognise it wasn’t sustainable to carry on with the one per cent going forward.

“That’s why next year we’ve been given the leeway to have more flexible negotiations.”

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: “It looks like hospitals will be forced to cut other services to find the funds.

“Jeremy Hunt is trying to face both ways on NHS pay and it just means even more uncertainty.”

The Royal College of Midwives has also welcomed the announcement about the cap but warned it could not be “another empty promise” from Mr Hunt.