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NHS staff forced to take second jobs, claims union ahead of strike


One in five NHS workers needed more than one job to make ends meet, with some saying they worked up to 26 extra hours a week, suggest survey results from a leading health union.

The survey findings come ahead of planned strike action on Monday as part of the dispute between 10 unions and the government over NHS pay.

According to the online survey of 3,366 Unison members, 54% said they are overdrawn every month and half said they would not survive without a second source of income.

“The government needs to step back from the brink and reconsider its pay policy urgently”

Christina McAnea

Examples of back-up jobs taken included lifeguard, tourist guide, exam invigilator, farm worker, hairdresser, driving instructor, gardener, delivery driver, dog groomer and maintenance worker.

Some respondents said they started their own businesses or did extra shifts in hospitals – even though this was often at a lower rate – as their NHS salary was not enough for them to live on.

Despite this, half said they also had to borrow to make ends meet. Nearly six out of ten (57%) relied on credit cards, 41% on friends and family, 37% turn to bank loans and 13% resorted to pay day loans.

The survey also revealed that two thirds of those who responded had to cut back on food, 51% had reduced their energy usage, and 44% had cut back on transport costs.

Addition, 80-90% had to cut back on holidays and leisure, leaving them with little opportunity to recuperate, said Unison.

The survey results follow recent ballots in favour of strike action in response to the government in England’s decision to reject the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendation to increase the pay of all staff in Agenda for Change by 1%.

NHS members from Unison, Unite, the GMB and the Royal College of Midwives will be staging a four-hour stoppage between 7am and 11am on Monday 13 October in England. Unite members in Northern Ireland will also strike later in the day.


The stoppage will be followed by an action short of strike action between Tuesday 15 and Friday 17 October when workers will ensure they take their breaks.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “It’s time NHS workers get a fair deal for the invaluable work they do. The government needs to step back from the brink and reconsider its pay policy urgently.”

She added: “The government is refusing to acknowledge that there is a real poverty problem affecting NHS workers. A demotivated, stressed workforce is bad for patients and bad for the NHS.”

Follow all the news from the strike on Monday by visiting the Nursing Times website.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Do you actually think this govt gives a crap about the nhs and its workers!!!

    11% for them and food banks for us....same old tories

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  • who are the couple in the photo? what are they doing? what do they have to do with the content of the article?

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  • Good on them, support them all the way

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  • Unfortunately this is only a battle and where the great war to come in the NHS is to save it from the 'secretive' TTIP trade deal that is being thrashed out behind closed doors as we speak. For once signed by our politicians and giant corporations it will be irrevocable and make the NHS basically illegal to exist. Don't believe me just look into the ramifications and where these so-called 'free-trade' agreements around the world as a pre-runner, have the corporations overriding sovereign laws and where 100s of millions are being levied against national governments for their government's breach of these trade deals. For these trade deals have their own secretive trade courts where the people are not privy and where they override completely sovereign laws. You could not make it up if you tried but this is what our politicians are signing up to behind our backs and in the full interests of the mighty corporation, not the people of the EU, UK and USA who will pay dearly in perpetuity as the trade deals can 'never' be rescinded -

    The sad fact is that the Tories, Labour, Lib-Dems and even UKIP know about the TTIP, have signed up to it behind closed doors and know how it will destroy the NHS. Therefore they are all literally hypocrites when they say that they are the party that will save the NHS. Once the EU gets its way and even if the political elite say that they will hop out of the TTIP, they are simply telling you lies as the EU will not allow this under the EU-USA agreement. Added to this on the other side of the coin once the corporations have taken control literally tens of thousands of former NHS jobs will go as privatisation has always ended up this way and never created more jobs than when the system was in public hands. So fasten down the hatches and wait for the great health war to begin shortly somewhere near you.

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