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An open letter to the leaders of the NHS


When wrote about nurses being offered immunity from redundancy if they agreed to have their Agenda for Change pay increments frozen, comments from readers came flooding in.

Many of you commented about your feelings of powerlessness in the face of cuts and reconfigurations, with one commenter saying nurses were “like lambs to the slaughterhouse”.

Another lamented: “If only these comments were passed on to the managers and the unions and were actually listened to!”

So why not take the opportunity to post your open letter to managers and politicians below. Let them know how the cuts will affect your team and your patients, as well as your suggestions for making NHS cost saving as painless as possible. We’ll publish the best submissions.

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Accept Agenda for Change pay increment freeze to keep your job, nurses told 


Readers' comments (14)

  • What I have to say is nothing new; it has been said time and time again by Nurses up and down the country. We all know the score, yet you all refuse to listen because you believe we are an easy target, you believe that we will meekly accept emotional blackmail, and on the whole you are right.

    But a word of warning, the tide is changing; there is only so much we can and will take. There are already a raft of our best and brightest heading to Australia, Canada or America as a direct result of poor working conditions, stress, sacrifice, lack of respect and low pay, and those that remain are becoming increasingly pushed to the limit. There are already mutterings about working to rule and striking. Do you really want to let that Genie out?

    Nurses are already working to the capacity of their limits. Low staffing numbers are putting too much strain on staff and are often forcing them to care for far more patients than is considered safe. Low staffing levels have been proven over and over again to adversely affect patient care, just look at mid staffs for example or you can use any one of the dozens of academic studies on the topic.

    Filling the wards with unqualified HCAs instead of Staff Nurses in order to save money in the short term will not work. It will have an adverse effect on patient safety and force many good, qualified staff Nurses to look abroad or elsewhere for work as long as ridiculous job freezes are kept in place.

    Heres an idea, get rid of job freezes and hire more Nurses. Introduce a LEGALISED Nurse/patient ratio. This may seem expensive in the short term, but it will have long term effects on staff moral/retention and patient care/safety that will SAVE MONEY. Just think of all the money you will save on compensation payouts caused by a lack of staff for a start!

    Staff Nurse wages are also pitifully poor already, how can you even think of cutting them? Because that is effectively what any cap on increments is. Compare us to the rest of the public sector for a start, Teachers, Police, etc, all are on a relatively higher salary and especially considering the level of training/education/responsibility and accountability Nurses have. No other profession would take that on for such low starting pay. Increasing wages may seem strange in the era of cuts, but just think of the effect it would have on moral and retention, not to mention the fact that it will simply be paying us a FAIR wage! And talks of even more cuts now is just plain insulting. Are you deliberately trying to provoke us into striking?

    Why is it Nurses increments and pay you are going after I wonder? Is it because you see us as an easy target? Why not go after GP's bloated salaries? Or won't you do that because you know damn well if you try the GMC and the Doctors will tear you apart and refuse to work? You know full well that the GMC is a powerful union whilst the NMC is a pathetic 'yes man' organisation with a 'no strike' policy. Well guess what, the NMC is already ridiculed and dismissed as a non organisation by many Nurses, and more and more are starting to walk away from them too. Many often only use them for indemnity insurance, they do not speak for all of us, and more and more Nurses will not continue to accept this treatment either. And if you think the NHS can't manage if Doctors go on strike, just think how long it will last if every single Nurse walked out on strike; and don't try to use the old 'patients will suffer' emotional blackmail, because if we walked out, the NHS would shut down in less than a day. Who do you think the patients would blame? I'm guessing it wouldn't be us!

    Redistribute the top heavy money pile from the managers/coordinators/trust executives/consultants/etc toward frontline staff, and you would not only see instant improvement in moral and retention, but patient care also. A tired, demoralised and beaten workforce can only care so much, even if it is intrinsic to our nature.

    If you want to keep the NHS strong and robust, then INVEST in Nurses, don't make cuts that we cannot take any more.

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  • I agree with Mike's posting above.
    So far all I have seen managers doing a reshuffle of posts, saying they have saved money when not one of them has been made redundant nor taken a pay cut or freeze. In fact several of them have been awarded pay increases as a direct result of the reshuffle. How is that fair? How is this saving money in a time of austerity? What makes it worse is that most of these managers cannot and do not perform well in the post.

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  • Its very simple. If you want this country to be the envy of the world in terms of healthcare ( and don't kid yourselves, the world is laughing at us) you need to do one thing. Look to the US and Canada and many others...they have LEGALLY enforceable minimum RN to patient ratios. If you really care about the people you are governing, then you need to do the same. As for RN pay, well, you know full well that it is too low and that AfC is a joke. Teachers and Police (heck, even binmen in some councils) all earn more for doing less. (Now I hate to bring gender into things but recent high profile cases seem to support the idea that the UK is far from equal when it comes to who is paid what). Could this be because they are male dominated professions, I wonder?

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  • Here here Mike!!
    Couldn't have said it any better!!

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  • I agree with all of the above

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  • I totally agree with Mike’s comment above. I believe the money wasted on chief executives, inexperienced clinician-managers, and consultants should be reinvested in frontline staff. Currently nurses' morale is very low due to shortage of staff and low wages. Nurses are working through their lunch hours for them to catch up with their work. Nurses are working far beyond their contracted hours on good will believing patients will suffer. Nurses' pay compared with other public servants is disgraceful - most nurses survive on part-time jobs. The new trend in nursing now is bringing in healthcare assistants to deliver nursing tasks to patients, all in the name of saving money!!! , I believe nurses need to be proactive and not reactive until then nurses will be dictated to by the government, our own unions and registration body will all walk over us.

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  • Mike....Spot on.
    Plus, I'm sick of teachers always moaning about their pay. They get it pretty good. They are spoilt.

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  • WHy waste our breath? No one is going to listen.

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  • I have to agree with Mike's well written letter. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

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  • tinkerbell

    Totally agree with all the points made by Mike. Will these postings actually be given to anyone in government. Otherwise what a waste of time. Will top managers/chief execs actually read these postings, and then will they job cut themselves ??? The top brass will protect themselves obviously, they will always advocate frontline workers be cut. It's simple self preservation and it has ruined the NHS. The problem and the answer has always been too many chiefs and not enough people on the ground. What's so difficult to work out - it's not rocket science. There's a lot of LBDN going on with upper management (look busy, doing nothing), attending endless rounds of meetings that achieve absoutely diddley squat whilst the staff on the ground are busting their guts trying to do an impossible job with minimum staff and also having to endure the continual rhetoric and lip service about patient dignity, service users, dignity champions, risk assessments, when they haven't even got enough staff to do the job. The biggest risk to a patient is not having enough staff to care for them. Give us the tools and we'll do the job otherwise just shut the **** up as personally i haven't got enough energy to listen to anymore management speak. Will the last one to leave please turn out the lights!

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