Are you prepared to give up a day of your holiday in return for a 6.5% pay increase over three years?
Do you think your holiday should be reduced to ensure your pay packet “bulges” just ever so slightly more? I am not sure such a deal is acceptable to hardworking NHS staff, but I am sure it’s a PR disaster to offer it.
Last week, I witnessed Jeremy Hunt telling senior nurses at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit that it was not sustainable to rely on the goodwill of their nursing staff to get through the worst winter we had ever seen.
In particular, he paid tribute to nurses who had trudged through the snow and slept in makeshift hospital beds to care for patients in the bad weather that swept across the country.
Yet details of the proposed pay deal, leaked just a day later, revealed that is exactly what might happen – relying on the goodwill of staff to help the NHS survive.
There is a staff shortage – caused by poor national workforce planning – and the NHS cannot afford to have nurses absent from their places of work for any length of time. So the government seems to be wanting those it has managed to attract – and so far retain – to pay the price for the short-staffing disaster.
”Forced to realise that it can no longer erode nurses’ pay any more, the government is now seeking to steal the time instead.”
This time off is a right. It is earnt, deserved and much-needed to avoid burnout. Take it away, and it has all sorts of implications for emotional wellbeing.
Forced to realise that it can no longer erode nurses’ pay any more, the government is now seeking to steal the time instead.
Nurses work through their breaks, come in early, finish late and often appear on days they are not rostered to help ensure patients get the best care they can. And now ministers think that these staff that show such heart, such diligence and such selfless compassion should have their paid holiday cut?
Retention and absenteeism will surely be affected by such an initiative, especially when nurses just reach a state of exhaustion and just cannot continue to turn up for work?
In addition, many nurses are often taking care of children or older relatives, so losing a day’s paid holiday could have financial implications for them in terms of paying for care.
This plan is nothing short of disgraceful and completely disrespectful of nurses who deserve their paid time off more than any other profession I can think of. I can only hope it meets with the robust arguments in defence of nurses keeping their holiday – the only issue is nurses might just be too shattered to put up a fight.