The news that nurses’ pay rises are to be no more than 1% in 2015-16 can’t come at a worse time for the profession. Just two weeks ago, we revealed that nursing was due to face a chronic shortage by 2016.
This virtual pay cut (because that is really what it is) will do little to attract new recruits into the profession, or make existing nurses feel respected.
Ministers are playing a dangerous game at the moment with the morale of nurses, and to find out that you are valued so little that you will not be given a decent pay rise will not help the situation.
Nurses have already been kicked quite enough recently by revelations of poor care in various NHS scandals, and often harsh media coverage laying all the blame at their door. Now there is this continuing assault on their pay and conditions.
Anyone would think that the government is on a mission to erode as much of the profession as it can - to try and reduce nurses’ self-esteem and motivation to zero.
Anyone would think that the government is on a mission to erode as much of the profession as it can - to try and reduce nurses’ self-esteem and motivation to zero
Two weekends ago on Sky television, I was asked what effect all these recent scandals in hospitals were having on nurses.
I paraphrase, but basically my answer was “a pretty devastating one”. Good nurses are feeling unable to cope with the pressure of too few resources, and dealing with daily guilt about their inability to provide safe, high-quality care.
As I said in the interview, you can have all the compassion in the world, but if there simply aren’t enough nurses to deliver pain relief promptly, take patients to the toilet or help them eat, the nurses who are there will look (usually incorrectly) like they just don’t care or can’t be bothered.
We need nurses to provide care, and we need motivated nurses to provide high-quality care. Constantly chipping away at nurses’ self-esteem and paying them so little that no one wants to do the job sounds like a recipe for more tragedy and healthcare scandals.
Isn’t it time we prioritised what is really important? Providing adequate wages for the people who take care of us when we need them most?
● Are staff cuts or inadequate resourcing leading to care failings in your place of work? Then you need to be able to Speak Out Safely. We are asking the government to make it safer for all staff to raise concerns at their place of work. Encourage your trust chief executive to sign up today. See www.nursingtimes.net/sos
Jenni Middleton, editor
email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed