The highest number of nursing staff applied for grants from the RCN Foundation hardship fund in 2016.
Over 700 nurses and healthcare assistants applied for grants from the Foundation, worth an average of £500. One in four grants were awarded to nursing staff earning a full time salary to cope with the cost of food, travel, rent and mortgage payments. For comparison, the Foundation donated more than £250,000 in 2016, compared to £56,000 in 2006.
‘It is a sad indictment that a growing number of nursing staff require financial assistance, even those on full time salaries, simply to cover everyday costs,’ said Janet Davies, RCN chief executive. ‘Too many are struggling to make ends meet, with some taking on second jobs or even turning to foodbanks.’
The RCN is calling on the government to lift the public sector pay cap introduced, which has caused nurse pay to fall in real-terms. The organisation has urged the government to allow a pay rise beyond the current 1% restriction, stating that unless nursing pay reflects the increase in cost of living, the NHS will struggle to retain and recruit staff.
‘In Wednesday’s Budget, the Government must offer nurses and health care assistants a pay increase that keeps pace with the cost of living and not another real-terms cut,’ added Ms Davies.