Nurses’ leaders say a Government attack on pay will cause “brain drain” from the NHS as 42% of student nurses in the region are consider working abroad.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the ongoing attack on NHS pay is making most student nurses feel undervalued before they have even qualified, and risks forcing newly qualified nurses to look for fairer pay outside the NHS.
A survey of the RCN’s student members has found that the recent decision to deny NHS staff a pay increase of 1% has left the country’s future nurses feeling anxious about their finances.
Peta Clark, operational manager for the RCN Northern Region said:
“The results of the RCN’s survey – which is part of a wider national survey carried out between July and September this year, shows that nursing students are feeling disheartened and unvalued by the current Government’s outrageous and unfair policy on NHS pay.
“NHS Trusts across the region are struggling to recruit and retain nursing staff. And yet, because of the Government’s refusal to pay a cost of living increase for nurses and health care assistants, we now have the very real possibility of seeing many of our current student nurses leaving the country to work abroad, where pay, terms and conditions are superior.
“Forty two percent of the current crop of nursing students across the North East and Cumbria told us that they are actively considering pursuing a career in nursing abroad, because the current state of nursing pay is so woeful.”
Countries such as Canada and Australia are currently actively recruiting nurses from the UK, because they know that the quality and skills that NHS nurses have are second to none.
Figures obtained by the RCN shows that 82% of student nurses polled across the North East and Cumbria are angry about the Government’s decision on nurses pay and 75% said the Government’s decision on pay has made them feel undervalued and unappreciated.
On Monday frontline health workers in the North East will strike in support of their claim for fair pay. Nurses, health care assistants, paramedics, porters and medical records staff across the country will take part in industrial action to show their anger at the Government’s failure to honour a 1% pay rise.
After three years of pay freezes and pay restraint, Chancellor George Osborne had said a 1% pay rise across the board was “affordable” from April this year. However, the Government then controversially reneged on this promise.
While some nurses and health care assistants still get their incremental pay increase, which rewards experience and skills learnt after a length of service, many are not be entitled to the rise. The Government has insisted it cannot afford a general pay increase without putting frontline jobs at risk.
A Department of Health spokesperson said:
“NHS staff are our greatest asset and we know they are working extremely hard. This is why despite tough financial times, we’ve protected the NHS budget and now have 13,500 more clinical staff than in 2010.
“We want to protect these increases and cannot afford incremental pay increases – which disproportionately reward the highest earners – on top of a general pay rise without risking frontline NHS jobs. We remain keen to meet with the unions to discuss how we can work together to make the NHS pay system fairer and more affordable.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle – 08 Oct 2014