Eight cash-strapped nurses every day are seeking urgent help from the Royal College of Nursing’s support-line to cope with the cost of living.
The advice line received 510 calls seeking financial support over 65 working days in the October – December 2016 period, said the RCN.
“The last thing public services need are sums that do not add up”
It noted that one in four callers who received grants from the college – worth approximately £450 – were in full-time work.
The new figure comes after prime minister Theresa May was challenged in a BBC television interview at the weekend on nurses’ pay and the use of foodbanks.
The RCN released the information on callers to its advice line at the same times as a “manifesto”, setting out its policy requests ahead of the general election.
It is calling for safe levels of NHS staff, pay increases for nurses and investment in health services, and for parties to “put patients before politics” with accurate and costed pledges.
It warned that the “cheques in the post” approach to NHS campaigning by all parties had been “irresponsible”.
Pay rise above 1% ‘needed to ease nurse crisis’
Janet Davies, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “The last thing public services need are sums that do not add up.
“Slogans on buses and un-costed wish-lists let patients down and they must avoid the temptation,” she noted.
“The party leaders must put patients before politics this election by either committing the hard cash and numbers of staff the NHS needs or be honest with patients about what can be done,” she said. “They deserve more than sticking plasters and warm words.”
Ms Davies added: “After the election, for the sake of patient safety, the government must scrap the pay cap and fill the tens of thousands of vacant jobs.”
The RCN is currently in the middle of a consultation with its members on their views on taking industrial action over pay, with the results set to be revealed later this month at is annual conference.
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The RCN manifesto asks for commitments on:
- safe and effective staffing levels in all health and care settings across the UK
- pay for nurses, midwives and health care assistants to keep pace with the cost of living
- more investment in health and care services, especially in community care and public health
- the right to remain for EEA nationals working in health and care
- end the practice of down-banding and substitution and provide sustained and strategic investment in education and training for the workforce