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'Pay attack will sink morale and add to staffing crisis'


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

Jenni Middleton, editor Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (24)

  • I left Nursing this year. I couldn't bear the constant attacks on the profession any more. The Chief Exec in our Trust was one of the ones in the South West cartel and he hasn't abandoned any of his nasty little plans to attack his Nurses pay and conditions. When he threatened to alter the maternity pay and conditions that was the last straw for me, I couldn't bear it any more i just felt like he hated us.

    I am so glad to be out of that toxic atmosphere.

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  • Nice article Jenni.

    Anonymous | 2-Jul-2013 2:09 pm

    It is a loss to the patients and profession that good nurses like you are driven away. But you did absolutely the right thing. Look after yourself and I hope that you find a happy, toxic-free work environment where you will be appreciated and able to thrive.

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  • tinkerbell

    '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'

    In a nutshell and very sadly they are bang on target in their target to destroy the nursing profession but clueless about improving the economy, but then what do they care once they rake in all the profits for their shareholders from selling of OUR NHS.

    Couldn't make up this level of corruption and deviousness and all achieved by an unelected government without mandate. They have taken corruption and injustice to a whole other level.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 2-Jul-2013 2:09 pm

    you are probably correct in your assessment, it is a 'hate' campaign.

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  • tinkerbell

    Still on the upside, our manager told us that our trust has informed him that staff will now be able to have 'free tea and coffee' I went on a hunt for where it might be located and later asked him 'how does this free tea and coffee manifest itself into my mug?' 2 days later still no answer. What a load of****!

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  • Thank you everyone , your comment are direct to the point. Nothing is new as long as the MP get their expenses claim, 2nd home mortgage and pay rise 100 % more than the nursing profession they do not care.

    The nursing council and unions should reject this offer for nurses , sure we deserve better.

    The nation do not know half of what nurses do and put up with on the wards and the community , it is the goverment cuts and policies that are dragging the nurses down physically, mentally and financially.

    Unions and nurses leaders reject , reject, reject the pay rise and ask for what we deserve.

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  • just had a nice northern workman who came down from derby this morning and I've told him all about it, never lose an opportunity to tell it like it is to jo public, you know privatisation thingy of the nhs, shortage of staff, he said next thing the government will be blaming you's for keeping people alive too long and causing this problem.

    He reckons they should leave us all alone, stop taxing us, let us spend our money on what we want, he said that if he hadn't had to pay all these taxes, insurances, council tax etc., he'd have loadsa money left over.

    He said he thinks the public are aware of what's going on and nurses won't take any industrial action cos' they're too nice. Told him I would. Said it's not like we'll leave people to die, we could have an organised strategy of who can go out and take the action, you know a local protest in the high street or something, anything.

    He wished us all well with it and said 'everything's just crazy, I never thought we'd end up in this mess when they got in'. Kinda got the impression he voted for them and now regretting it.

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  • tinkerbell

    don't know the above posted as 'anonymouse', it twas I.

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  • The nhs costs too much, lets face it, since it started it was way too underfunded, demand constantly outstrips the resources available. Politics aside, does it matter which party wants to privatise the nhs, in my opinion, they all do. None can be trusted. I look at my wage slip each month and the tax insurance and pension contributions have meant that despite my incremental increase I am £300 worse off. My terms and conditions are about to change away from AfC, so biting into my salary further. I had to work bank as they won't pay overtime, now my bank salary has been fixed one increment lower than my main job. Bearing in mind that study leave is paid at bank rates - I've not signed my new bank contract, I've informed my line manager ill do overtime or just stick to my main job and contracted hours, for tax etc ill be no worse off! I've always tried to treat my patients with the care I would my own relatives, but in these times when every person working in the nhs or services providing nhs services, it's really hard to find the motivation to go the extra mile, work over your hours etc. I've no idea where it will all end, but I do know patients will not be better for these changes and neither will staff.

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  • It's a UK tradition that health service pay and conditions are worse under a conservative government, so only a year or 2 to go on that score.

    Unfortunately, many EU countries have no economy and no jobs and their qualified staff are coming here in droves, so there is a seemingly endless supply of cheap labour. Most of them speak enough english to get by.

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