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World’s nurses ‘need a pay rise and better working conditions’


Nurses around the world need a pay rise and better working conditions, with wages showing salary stagnation and a fall in purchasing power, according to a new report.

The International Centre on Nurse Migration has published an analysis of pay data collected by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) over the 10-year period from 2006 to 2016.

“It is vital for governments to invest in nursing and address issues to recruit and retain nurses”

Howard Catton

The findings show that many nurses around the world have experienced a real terms’ fall in their purchasing power over the past 10 years.

As a result, there is an urgent need to give the world’s nurses a pay rise and improve working conditions in order to address the attractiveness of the profession, warned the ICN.

The timeline considered in the report coincides with the beginning of the global economic crisis in 2007-08 and has continued until 2014.

While there is evidence of a pick-up in pay in the last two years in some countries, the trend appears to be driven by a limited number of countries, rather than being a trend across the board, said the report.

“It appears that pay is not being used as a lever to improve either the recruitment or retention of nurses”

Howard Catton

Over the same period, turnover rates appear to have increased, due to the ageing nursing workforce, but also to heavy workloads, low compensation and poor working conditions, it warned.

In addition, it noted that the trends were set against the backdrop of a global shortage of nurses, which a recent United Nations commission had estimated to equate to around nine million nurses.

The data was collected through the ICN’s workforce forums, which bring together representatives from national nursing associations each year to debate workforce issues and working conditions.

The ICN highlighted that the recent launch of the Nursing Now global campaign provided a “generational opportunity” to raise awareness of the value and contribution of nurses and to make the case for positive political choices and investment.

This should also include significant improvements in nurses’ pay and working conditions around the world, said the council.

Report author Howard Catton, ICN director of nursing and health policy, said: “The findings clearly show significant periods of minimal pay growth across the world.

Howard Catton

Howard Catton

Howard Catton

“It is vital for governments to invest in nursing and address issues to recruit and retain nurses, such as starting salaries and prospects of reasonable career and pay progression,” said Mr Catton.

He added: “Despite the current and predicted shortage, it appears that pay is not being used as a lever to improve either the recruitment or retention of nurses.

“All governments have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of their citizens and this includes having a sufficient number of healthcare professionals,” he said.

The ICN also announced that Professor James Buchan, an internationally renowned expert on the nursing workforce, will be working with it in an advisory capacity on workforce and health policy.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Well noticed.

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  • TANSTAAFL ("There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" -Robert A Heinlein). The public need to be reminded that they get what they pay for. Nurses pay is now peanuts, and I for one feel like I am being made a monkey. Eventually there will be no nurses of talent, only those who have nowhere else to go. Maybe then our paymasters will understand.

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