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'Plans to remove holiday from nurses are completely disrespectful'

  • 16 Comments

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.

  • 16 Comments

Readers' comments (16)

  • This "give up a day's holiday" initiative, whilst wrongheaded, is not being "offerred" only to Nurses in the NHS, Some Universities workforce members are being asked to accept some of their leave, unpaid, in return for a reduction in the likelihood of redundancies.
    Both examples are about money supply management...making what there is go further, because apparently the money supplied, to meet demand, is inadequate. Steel workers have had to accept modified pension plans and other manufacturers, in the UK are making similar approaches to workforces, effectively reducing income for the same, or with an expected increase in output.
    There is systemic problem with how the UK economy is being run...or..not run!

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  • Easy
    1. take an extra day off sick to make up for it
    2. take another sick day and call it NMC fee day

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  • A lot of staff I know actually have to work agency on their holiday days to make ends meet. But at least you have a choice in that, what is proposed is taking the choice away.

    This offer is insulting.
    It's not giving anything it's just paying you for the leave lost.

    Staff are already working above and beyond, annual leave helps staff to recharge.

    I am beyond appalled.

    Another insult and a nail in the coffin of the NHS.

    How many people in our history have argued, marched, gone on strike suffered and died for our working rights, including paid leave , breaks, and meal breaks.
    This proposal is just another chip away at those rights .



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  • "Too shattered to put up a fight". When do nurses ever put up a fight? They are always too scared of being victimised to stand up for anything. That's why comments on here are always anonymous.

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  • I wonder what would happen if the government were given exactly the same wage rise/offer/insult as the nurses.
    I’d love to see their comments .

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  • 6.5% over the 3 years doesn't even cover the inflation. I prefer my day off.

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  • I work part time day shift as rgn for a private company would love to work for NHS but my lI call nhs will not give part time days. I have 2 young kids. This is why a lot of nurses who have young families work for private not nhs

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  • Anonymous 4th March 09:55 - I work for less money in the private sector and don't receive sick p[ay for the first 3 days I am off. I don't receive unsocial hours payments despite working a week of nights every 2-3 weeks, nor do I receive anything extra for working weekends. Why do I continue working for this company? Simply put, it isn't the NHS. At 60 years old, I have to balance the prospect of less money against no breaks, aggressive patients and relatives, unpaid overtime and poor management.

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  • Nurses work as agency nurses to make up pay, is that the real reason why they are so tired, exhausted etc.
    Nurses on wards work so hard but then we have nurses sitting on their backsides ion consultants rooms, fetching and carrying bits of paper for lazy consultants.
    In my days a a nurse we were expected to take blood samples, do dressings etc. now patients have to make phone calls and wait ages for a simple blood test.
    Nurses on wards should get paid a higher rate than those that sit in consultant clinics on their backsides doing very little real work indeed.
    Perhaps it is time fro nurses to have a real strike, yes it may impact on patient care, but maybe that is the only way this government will get the message!

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  • I agree with Nurse 54 nurses no longer have a voice. Years of fear and lack of support have left them so vulnerable they will accept anything they are given.

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