As the pay debate hots up, the temperature is plummeting outside, signalling the impending arrival of winter pressures.
And NHS England is predicting a tough winter for its service - as demonstrated by the money its chief executive Simon Stevens is pushing in that direction.
We’ve all read stories from past winters of nurses trudging through the snow to reach patients cut off by bad weather, or staying overnight in hospitals to ensure adverse conditions don’t get in the way of them looking after their patients.
To get through a winter like the one forecast, the NHS will rely on nurses’ goodwill. Unfortunately, goodwill could be in short supply considering that, as this issue of Nursing Times goes to press, unions are still planning a second day of strike action on Monday.
And pay is now turning out to be an English problem. The workforce in England is demoralised by the government’s refusal to offer a 1% blanket pay rise as advised by the NHS Pay Review Body. While Wales and Scotland found ways to pay nurses more this year than last, NHS England will not reach for its chequebook (see page 5).
Meanwhile, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation Trust also made a highly criticised pay decision affecting its nurses last week. Its decision to require staff to work an extra shift or lose a day’s annual leave allocation as a result of the trust’s payroll error (page 5) could damage that much-needed goodwill of nurses.
The trust overpaid staff by £82 each on average over the year, and now wants to claw it back. But considering the unpaid overtime most nurses accrue by working through breaks and staying late, surely GOSH could have let its administrative error go? I am all for fairness and transparency, but if it wants to continue providing high-quality care, it will rely on nurses’ good nature. And that decisionmay have eroded that good nature at a time when goodwill is being tested. If I’d been told to work an extra shift to pay for someone else’s mistake I wouldn’t be minded to work through breaks, let alone go the extra mile when bad weather kicks in.
● This week sees the chief nursing o cer for England gather together some of the country’s most senior nursing leaders in Manchester for her annual summit. Jane Cummings and her team have worked with Nursing Times to design a programme to challenge and inspire the profession’s leadership.
Follow the action at nursingtimes.net and on twitter at #CNOSummit
Jenni Middleton, editor
email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter@nursingtimesed