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Nursing pay restrictions are lowering staff morale say MPs

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MPs questioned how far the NHS can run on goodwill MPs questioned how far the NHS can run on goodwill

MPs raised concerns about the effect pay restrictions were having on nursing morale in a parliamentary debate.

Led by Catherine McKinnell MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, the debate was in response to an e-petition set up by community nurse Danielle Tiplady to remove the pay cap for nurses and midwives.

Ms McKinnell said 'it was bad enough that the government continually expect NHS staff, many of whom are at breaking point, to do more with less and treat more patients with fewer resources in what are usually physically and psychologically demanding roles, but to expect them to do so while they face such anxiety and stress over their own financial situation is completely unacceptable'.

Many of the MPs argued that the recurrent pay restraint imposed on nursing and midwifery staff were leaving them stressed and wishing to leave the profession.

FIgures from Health Education England (HEE) show that 8.8% of nurses left the NHS – the highest number since 2011. On top of this a third of nurses are due to retire in the next 10 years.

Former shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, also highlighted that there had 'been an attack on nursing training places' meaning that fewer nurses were joinin the profession. In reponse to this more and more Trusts are relying on agency nurses and overseas recruitment which in turn costs the NHS more.

Former health minister and MP for Central Suffok and North Ipswich Dan Poulter highlighted that in his constituency, 'managers have sometimes received huge pay rises at the expense of frontline staff, who have received pay rises of nought or 1%. That is unacceptable'.

The current health minister Phillip Dunne, responded to these comments, stated that all NHS staff received the national living wage. 'The truth is that average earnings of NHS staff as a whole remained well above the national average salary for 2015, which was £27,500, and have increased by more than annual pay awards,' he said.

However, he stated that pay alone 'will not necessarily persuade the skilled and compassionate people that we need to choose a career in the NHS'.

He concluded by saying that recruitment and retention was not just about pay. It is about creating a culture in which learning, development and innovation are encouraged. 'It is about creating an environment where staff want to work, take pride in what they do, and are well motivated and feel safe; an environment where employers promote the importance of the values of the NHS and work incredibly hard to keep staff safe, and where bullying and harassment are not tolerated'.


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'The truth is that average earnings of NHS staff as a whole remained well above the national average salary for 2015, which was £27,500, and have increased by more than annual pay awards,' . Mr Dunne, I respectfully, but comprehensively disagree, Sir. I have been in community nursing for nearly 7 years. In real terms my pay has gone DOWN considerably since 2010 when I qualified and had zero experience and minimal skills. Since then, I have undertaken (as do all nurses, relevant to their roles) a considerable amount of extra in-depth training in order to carry out full holistic assessments, doppler assessments, leg ulcer management and compression therapy, central line care, continence assessments, bowel care, complex wound care, palliative support and end of life care, equipment assessment and provision, catheter care, phlebotomy and on and on. I rose to band 6 deputy team lead which involved a good deal more training around people management and team development, sickness management, appraisals, e-rostering, caseload management, datix investigations and root cause analysis, auditing and so on. I am currently undertaking a specialist practitioner degree course which will enable me to seek a band 7 team lead post and am studying leadership and management, long term conditions, complex wound care, complex palliative and end of life care, Community Nurse Practitioner Prescribing and enabling and capacity building. Much of the above study......as with all nurses....is 'self directed learning'. Meaning, in our own time, not earning a wage. With all of that progression, I am only just above the figure you quote, many nurses are not, so I can only imagine that is a figure reached by averaging to include bands 8A,B and C which carry considerably higher renumeration and is therefore completely unrepresentative of the majority of the nursing workforce.
Furthermore, to then discuss recruitment and retention issues which the government also carries considerable responsibility for in regard to public sector pay freezes since 2011, frontline staffing cuts which increase workload pressure, unreasonable changes to contracts and working conditions without due consideration, cuts to training places for student nurses year on year compounded by the recent removal of funding for those places and introduction of new apprenticeships and nurse associate roles which fly in the face of evidence which identifies use of lesser skilled staff as a factor in increased death rates as not being affected by pay is disgraceful. Research has shown that many nurses now use food banks and access counselling for issues relating to financial concerns, many have left the profession due to poor pay, many are burned out and at increasingly high risk of burnout, depression and suicide (ONS’ Suicide by Occupation, March 2017). My trust is precisely as you describe above, a fantastic environment with zero tolerance for bullying or harrassment and staff are well supported, valued and motivated. This has NOT, however, addressed issues around recruitment and retention. It is very difficult to recruit highly skilled motivated people without appropriate pay offered and high vacancy % increases pressures on the dedicated staff who do an amazing job, opening them up to the risks detailed above, no matter how fantastic the employer. To suggest otherwise is infantile. All this has been known for many years, as The Institute for Fiscal Studies, (2014) in their report 'Public Sector Pay in the UK state the following; 'In making the trade-off between future workforce cuts and pay squeezes, both
the government and Pay Review Bodies (PRBs) need to pay great attention to
indicators of whether the public sector is facing any difficulties in recruiting and
retaining high-quality staff, and to decide on settlements in light of any such
evidence'.
Posted by: ,
Financially I am definitely worse off than 3 years ago, at 60yrs old I was hoping to reduce my hours to part-time but that is simply not possible on my current pay. I am a Diabetes Specialist nurse and I live on the south coast where property prices are ridiculously high, I won't have re-paid my mortgage when I do retire and don't know what I will do, the extra £50 per month we used to receive for living in the south stopped several years ago, ALL nurses and midwives deserve a pay rise and the added expense of living in the south should also be taken in to account, GP surgeries are closing down all around here because they cannot recruit nurses or GPs, our earnings will not cover exorbitant rents or mortgages. I have two daughters, thankfully neither of them have followed me into nursing. I am saddened by the state of the NHS, I have worked in it since 1975 and have never seen the morale as low as it is now.
Posted by: ,
I am a Senior General Practice Nurse, working in the same surgery for 12 years, I am not on Agenda For change either, and I have only had 3 very small insignificant pay rises during this time. When TV news stations announce about nurses pay rises they fail to realise that GP Surgery nurses are not getting these rises as they are employed by the GP's not the NHS !
Posted by: ,
I agree with the ladies above. Pay is certainly important! I work as a practice nurse at an nhs GP surgery and I hear a lot of shortage of nurses in GP surgeries and surgeries desperately looking for agency nurses. This impacts on patient quality of care. people are opting for agency work as the pay is slightly better. the struggles in departments are due to short staff which is due to nurses not being paid enough to be motivated to work. furthermore, people keep moving from surgeries to surgeries where pay is a bit more attractive leaving another surgery stranded. its all like a nurse would opt for the higher paid vacancy- because money means a lot!!!!!
Posted by: ,
living off the scraps from your table minister,Thank you for your generosity.
Had hoped to retire aged 60 but given that i am so overpaid i can cheerfully look forward to working for a furter 5 years or perhaps until i'm on a zimmer myself..........what a bonus.
wondering if you are enjoying your private health care?
Posted by: ,
I have been at my current practice for 15 years.I have had 2 pay rises in that time despite on going professional development .I am a nurse Prescriber and Minor Illness trained and I see patients on an immediate access system which is trying to ease the pressure on A+ E department s. I am a loyal member of staff and try to support colleagues through the difficult time we are all experiencing in Primary Care .But enough is enough .Money IS important .Why should we be made to feel guilty for saying so It doesn't mean we are less compassionate or do the job in a less than devoted way .My colleague left 2 years ago .She hasn't been replaced. I now do her work as well as my own
I am not on Agenda for Change so Phillip Dunne is wrong ....I have not had a standard of living pay rise for 10 years as my gps have no obligation to pay that to us .
I am one of the nurses due to retire in the next 5 years and feel throughout my career nurses have been underpaid and our caring natures abused
Posted by: ,
I agree with the comment above, very low staff morale, working as a community nurse we use our own vehicles for minimal mileage n wear and tear on them, propping up an ever expanding service. A very disheartening job at present. I wouldn't recommend nursing as a career for anyone in its current state.
Posted by: ,
My pay now is the same as it was in 2002 for doing the same job on the same grade.
The difference is the role has expanded, the responsibilities and skills required have dramatically increased without the pay to reflect. I am a specialist Cardiac Nurse and independent prescriber,i am referred patients from GP's etc for advice on various aspects of care including medication and symptoms , a role historically undertaken by GP's. Nurses pay is appalling, i would not reccommend nursing as a career, it is an undervalued profession.Phillip Dunn is wrong, pay alone is what we now need not charity. How do you motivate a workforce with no payrise in 10 years! i dont see the evidence for an increased work force, just continual drop in morale, apathy, sickness , aggravation,lack of recruitment and retention.
Posted by: ,
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