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You love your job AND you want to be paid for it?


Beyond the Bedpan has come to realise that money is a great motivator. It gives us time and comfort and keeps us in gin and tonic and kettle chips. So why are nurses expected to do their jobs for free?

There seems to be a general feeling that all nurses were “born to nurse”. True, this is doubtless the case for many nurses, and probably a handful of estate agents/checkout professionals/cheese packers, who just knew from the moment that they could talk that there was only one path that they could tread. But while loving your job is great, it doesn’t pay the rent, does it?

Why, then, is there a barrage of stories about nurses having to forgo pay rises, sacrifice pensions, and at one trust even work for free(!)? Is it fair to expect nurses to nurse and then not reward them? Is that warm fuzzy feeling supposed to be reward enough?

As always, our articulate readers have hit the nail on the head.

“This is absolutely ridiculous, why yet again penalise the hard working staff who do not get any other rewards?”

“Yet again, the nurses are being held to ransom. The majority of nurses are already struggling to keep up with inflation. Cost of living is soaring with no let up predicted for five years. We work hard and support our organisations by doing all those extra things that ensure that it continues to work. If we all stopped putting in the extra time, doing the things that weren’t officially part of our jobs, we know the system would fail.”

“We are already woefully underpaid, and never mind all the unpaid hours that nurses put in!!! We should call their bluff! They know they can’t do without us! It’s time for a strike! Seriously, how do people not see this?”


Readers' comments (30)

  • Its getting hot in here!

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  • I agree for years nurses have always been expected to do and do and for ...nothing. And if the policy says you should document you work these extra hours and when you wish to claim back the time it is 'only at the discretion of management and if it good for them.' So what happens is that you keep working for nothing and the managers see that the jobs get done but with no compensation. When will this ever end help help RCN!!!!!! and fellow nurses everywhere!!!!

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  • Yes now our trust is cutting overtime and extra hours to cover for sickness. There is no overtime allowed by management yet we can work for time owing to be given back at another more convenient time. The result is no one wants to do this and existing staff end up short handed or as happened last week an agency nurse was brought in? So where is this logic coming from? This does not save money and does very little for morale when experienced staff from their own area are willing to work for fair pay and are denied the opportunity. Thus putting less experienced staff in place. This knee jerk reaction to cost cutting is painfully unfair and demeaning to regular staff.

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  • Nurses work hard in a stressful job, never finish their shifts on time, give up days off, forgo holidays due to short staffing and end up run down and ill! If they did not go that extra mile the standards of care would deteriorate even further. If a patient becomes acutely ill a dedicated nurse would stay and provide care and not walk off the ward and leave them. If a colleague is struggling they would stay and give support. These are our nurses, pay should not be frozen and pensions cut. Even nurses cannot be expected to live on thin air!!!!

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  • I have long said that if nurses withdrew goodwill, the NHS would fall flat on its face. We already prop up, what is essentially, a bankrupt organisation by accepting low wage increases, giving extra hours by starting work early (I'm a District Nirsing Sister) and finishing late. Last month, I worked almost the equivalent of an extra week due to extreme staff shortages, starting work at 8am and finishing at 6pm most evenings. This was the only way I could ensure that my patients got the level of care they deserved. I may get this time back when staffing levels allow, there is no such thing as overtime payments in our organisation. Its time managers realised the sacrifices the majority of nurses make to keep the NHS afloat and stop carping.

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  • I'm sorry, but as nurses we are our own worst enemy! We shoot themselves in the foot every time! It's our own fault that we get constantly walked over and treated like s**t!!!!!!

    DON'T work the extra hours unpaid! DON'T stay behind at the end of your shift to complete documentation! DON'T stay behind to support junior staff! Because as long as you continue to do so, management will let you and nothing will change! Ever!

    It's because our "stupidity" is taken for granted that nothing has changed in the 36 years I have worked in the NHS!

    I for one DO NOT work any extra time for pay or otherwise! I DON’T go in on my days off and I certainly DON’T forgo any holidays. As I work part-time I do do the off-duty at home but I claim that time back when it's convenient to ME not management! I ALWAYS take my breaks and ensure all other staff do so. In my workplace staff aren’t asked to come and work on their days off and they have ALL their annual leave entitlement when they request it. If staffs are concerned about shortages we document our concerns to management (to conform with the NMC Code); if anything goes wrong we have proof that we acted appropriately. We also speak with unions and involve 'Staff side' representatives. Thus staffing becomes a management problem as it is beyond our control. Then we just get on with caring for our patients as best we can with the resources available.

    I have NOT agreed to any pay freeze and will fight any changes to my pension with total commitment and hostility. If every nurse developed this attitude our profession would be treated with far more respect. You don’t see our medical colleagues rolling over and dying with such ease. People ultimately get what deserve; this situation of cuts and freezes is something our profession has allowed to happen by being totally submissive and acquiescing to everything asked of us.

    Nurses need to become more militant and go on STRIKE - then and only then will things change!!!

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  • I work in a nurse-led leg ulcer clinic in the south. We consist of 3 BAND 5 staff nurses and an assistant practitioner. Our line manager is not clinic based but available to call on for advice, however we have to make all the decisions at assessment. I am called a specialist nurse and am a non-medical prescriber. I do not even have a job description and have not had a PDP meeting since in this post. How are we ever to progress. The answer is never I think, we were even told that if we wanted to progress to move to another Trust by a more senior manager!

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  • Anonymous 4. 58 9th Oct

    We do what we do mainly for our patients and colleagues but i have to agree with what you are saying, as long as we continue to make do and struggle management are happy and will not support us or and when they do it is mainly lip service, we as nurses are treated very shabbily Why is it ? that the medical profession are treated differently ?
    My trust has had so many changes over the last 5 years its unbeleivable the staff are so stressed our manager does not respond to e mails or messages even in critical situations
    but does turn upto tell staff of over 65 that they will be given a leaving date but assuring them that she values their service as individuals what a load of bull
    the trust want to get in before the goverment s work until you drop comes in next year oh yes and while you are at it we will make sure you dont get an extension to your employment after the 31st march the end of the financial year
    what a terrible way to treat people at the end of their career who are fit and able to offer a few years more service given the choice
    and i certainly hope the nurses and unions fight the challenge for our pension i have four and half years till i retire and i feel sorry for the staff that are just starting out i wont miss the stress politics and indifference that managers throw at us

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  • come on then strike dont beat about the bush we know the resons we all feel the same the longer this gose on the worse it will be act now for yourself worth

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  • i work at a trust where overtime has been cut and left to bank only. this seems ok you may think but we are a very busy specialised unit who end up short staff because bank cannot fill the posts needed or we end up with bank staff that simply do not have a clue (not their fault) but that puts extra pressure on the staff left on that shift. This is frustrating because we have nurses willing to do the overtime to fill theses shifts. Also the trust is asking band 6 staff to sign a waiver so that any bank shifts they do they will be paid as a band 5. Good money saving idea from the trust but as intimated before we like shooting ourselves in the foot. My feeling is this nurses worked very hard to get agenda for change a fair across the board pay scheme that included protected pay for 10 years and those nurses that have signed this form have just pissed all that away . Shame on you. Nurses could be a very powerful force if we all stuck together fat cats at the hospital trusts who have not had pay freezes who enjoy protected pay even though they hold no legitimate positions rely on our good will and put us in positions of ransom by keeping us low paid. Times have to change ladies and gentleman we have to grow a backbone and lobby our unioins to get off their ass and represent our interests not just talk about it but do something before we loose good staff to countries who actually value their nursing staff. Its time we took care of each other and stand together because thats the only way things will be acheived.

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