Health minister Helen Whately was caught out on Wednesday when she was unable to say what a newly qualified nurse earns.
In an interview with LBC, she was asked by presenter Nick Ferrari if she was “aware” of the salary.
Whately, the minister for social care, said there had been “an increase in pay for newly qualified nurses of 12%”.
Ferrari asked: “What would he or she make then? With that 12%, roughly what would that come in at minister?
“Do you know I don’t have that figure at my fingertips,” Whately said.
Ferrari told her: “I would suggest that perhaps your team might have given you the figure for what a nurse makes.
“But I’ll tell you, it’s £24,000, give or take for newly qualified. It rises to £33,000 on average, once you’ve got years of training.”
Whately said the government wanted to “make sure there is the right support” for nurses but was “not just a matter of pay”.
“One of the most important things for nurses is to make sure that there is the workforce around them, that you’ve got a full team and that you’re not having to have a team that’s got too many temp workers,” she said.
“That’s why we are committed to increasing the number of nurses in NHS to 50,000 more by the end of parliament.
“That’s a really important part of our commitment, both to getting a better patient care but also to supporting the workforce.”
It comes as the number of applications for nursing courses has surged by almost a third (32%) during the covid pandemic, statistics from the university admissions service revealed.
The latest Ucas figures – which show the numbers applying to start undergraduate courses by the main January 29 application deadline – reveal that the number of applicants for nursing rose to 60,130.