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‘Employers must support staff in their hour of need’


Conversations about health and social care almost inevitably include some discussion of the financial pressures they are under. But this month, we reveal their personal impact on nurses, which can also translate into problems for services.  

Cavell Nurses’ Trust, in partnership with Nursing Times, has surveyed over 1,000 members of nursing staff on their financial status and other questions around the issue of money. The findings do not make for happy reading. 

For example, 77% of respondents said they felt financially unprepared for a crisis, such as a period of ill health, a relationship breakdown or a bereavement. Meanwhile, 41% reported that they had £500 or less within their household to fall back on and 9% even said they had resorted to using a food bank. So far so bad. 

But I’ve left the worst till last. The survey found that 55% of respondents had considered leaving the profession due to money problems. I doubt we would have had similar findings if we had surveyed members of the medical profession. This is a deeply worrying situation, given how desperately short of nurses we are, and the importance of retaining the ones we have. 

“It is how we respond that counts most”

Of course, multi-year pay rises have just been agreed for NHS staff in England and Scotland, and are in the process of being consulted on in Wales. However, let’s not kid ourselves, the size of the increases means the deals are not going to change anyone’s lifestyle too dramatically – indeed they won’t even make up for the real-terms pay cuts caused by years of pay freezes and below-inflation rises.

There will inevitably be staff who find themselves in difficulty, however, it is how we respond that counts most. Abandoning them to struggle by themselves and potentially leave nursing is short-sighted when there are alternatives – even if the option of restoring nurses’ pay to pre-austerity levels doesn’t seem likely any time soon.   

Cavell Nurses’ Trust has created a membership programme for organisations that employ nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants to “create a safety net” to support nursing professionals “if they are facing a crisis” and “clearly demonstrates how much they value” them.

I would urge as many trusts and other employers as possible to take advantage of this clear opportunity to support their nursing staff in their hour of need and, in so doing, show how much they are valued. 


Readers' comments (7)

  • We got paid 9 days ago and I’m sitting with less than £500 in my account to last me almost another 3 weeks. We don’t live extravagantly we live a very modest life a holiday takes years to save for. My real fear is running out of food to feed my family because the cost of living is so high

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  • Am exactly the same as above. Running out of money already and depending on credit cards to pay the utility bills and groceries. This is crazy. Working full time as a nurse qualified 13 years I should not be living hand to mouth and stressing about every little expense that comes up. Oh, and of course I nearly forgot this month we need to find an extra £120 for the Nmc registration fee! What a shame my £20 pay rise doesn’t cover it...something needs to change because I am seriously looking at my options, as I know many others are. Nurses in this day&age need a wage which reflects the incredible array of things we do, anove & beyond our job description, and a wage which sees us though the month, not too much to ask surely ??

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  • I agree. I had to pay back £400 pension arrears for my so called rise.. I’m £100 worse off with the rise than before. I am the main earner in the house and I only have £200 left until payday.. with two children and their dinner money to find and petrol to drive to bank it is..

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  • We relied on the unions in getting us the best deal and in understanding/interpreting what was on offer - but we were woefully let down. Only the GMB union rejected the pay offer. Unison, released a statement in which they blamed members for not understanding the pay deal, despite the complicated wording and disgraceful publicity proclaiming rises of up to 29%. Nurses and allied professions have been let down by their unions big time in how this pay deal was 'sold'. It was a very complex deal, which sounded great on paper (deciphered by the unions (apart from the GMB) as a major step forward and a smashing of the 1% cap), but in reality has led to us being out of pocket every month due to increase in pension contributions and tax - so no pay increase at all, but a pay cut! Who did the maths in how this pay deal would pan out?! I feel nurses should make their unions accountable in that they mis sold us this pay deal. Unions should go back to the government and reject it as in reality nurses have received a pay cut. They should also sack the person(s) in government for coming up with this idiotic pay deal in not getting the maths right. It would be interesting to know how legally we stand with regards the unions AND the Government in mis-selling this pay deal to us. Anyone know a good Barrister?

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  • Not only is the so called pay deal insulting, the staff that need to use the car parking facilities are charged on a monthly basis equating to £300 P.A. £120 to be on the nursing register. Continual updating of skills and mandatory training (in your own time). Union membership with access to learning modules also at ridiculous rates. If it's worked out in comparison to what you don't need, finding other employment can be realistic without all the responsibility and stress of nursing.

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  • The paultry pay rise goes a long way to showing how much our profession is respected. I also now pay £800 per year in parking charges at my trust - unbelievable.For a highly skilled, indispensable, dedicated, over stretched workforce to be treated in this way is deplorable. How do we attract the brightest and the best into our profession when this is how we are treated?

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  • If you're not in, stay out. If you're in get out if you can.

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