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Nursing staff 'stretched to breaking point' over pay and conditions

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by Ian Snug.
Nursing staff 'stretched to breaking point' over pay and conditions
Image: © vectorfusionart

The Royal College of Nursing survey today lays bare the extent of pay restraint and ongoing financial pressures on the nursing workforce.

Just over a month after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called for an urgent patient safety review the results of the latest RCN survey show the true extent of the financial pressures healthcare staff are facing on a day-to-day basis.

Nursing staff are suffering such financial hardship that nearly three out of four say they feel worse off than they did five years ago, while almost a quarter have had to take on another job simply to make ends meet.

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These are some of the findings from the RCN’s biennial employment survey, published today.

The results come ahead of next week’s Budget, when the Chancellor is being urged to address the issue of public sector pay after Jeremy Hunt announced an end to the public sector pay cap.

Of the members who responded to the survey, 70% reported feeling financially worse off than they were five years ago, while 24% say they are thinking of leaving their job because of money worries.

The percentage of respondents who say they are looking for a new job has also increased from 24% ten years ago to 37% today.

And 61% say their job band or grade is inappropriate for the work they do, a significant increase on the last survey in 2015, when only 39% said this was the case.

As a result of these severe financial and workload pressures, nursing staff are now less likely than at any point in the previous 10 years to say they would recommend nursing as a career to others – only 41% said they would do so this year, compared with 51% in 2007.

This response from a Band 5 staff nurse working in North West England was typical of those received:

“There are seven years till I can take early retirement at 55, then I will leave nursing and get a little job in a supermarket.  The pay, terms and conditions of working 12 hour shifts eventually wear you down and demoralise you.  This is not what I came into nursing for.  I really feel for the patients, but I have nothing else to give.  We have two generations of nurses in our family, but I am so glad my daughter has not followed my profession”.

Commenting on the survey result, RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies said:

“The shocking findings we’re highlighting today demonstrate just how severe the financial pressure on nursing staff has now become.

“It is ludicrous that the health service is losing valuable highly-trained staff simply because they can’t pay the bills at the end of the month.

“The Safe Staffing report we published in September laid bare the terrible impact nursing shortages are having on patients; today’s survey findings, in contrast, show how badly nurses themselves are suffering from the continued underfunding of the health service.

“The Chancellor must therefore give a clear signal in the Budget next week that the Government will award an above-inflation pay rise to hard-pressed nursing staff in the NHS.”

Sara Gorton, UNISON Head of Health, said:

“These findings echo what staff across the entire NHS have been telling us. NHS employees as a whole are struggling to survive on just their basic pay.

“Cleaners, porters, paramedics, midwives, administrators and healthcare assistants have all gone without a proper pay rise for far too long. They work hard to deliver the best care for patients and their families in tough circumstances, and with limited resources.

"With inflation and interest rates on the rise, all health employees want is to be able to pay their bills, feed their families and live without constant financial worries.

“The NHS is already facing recruitment challenges. Giving all NHS staff an above inflation pay rise would ultimately be good for the health service and for patients everywhere.

"Next week the Chancellor has the opportunity to put an end to poverty pay in the NHS and give everyone a fair pay rise.”

The RCN is calling on the Chancellor offer a million NHS staff a lifeline - a 3.9% pay rise plus an additional extra £800 to make up for the real-terms pay cut they have seen in recent years.

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‘Red bags’ will get patients home from hospital quicker

Innovative ‘red bags’ will help community patients admitted to hospital be discharged quicker are being rolled out across the country.

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by Matt Bodell.
‘Red bags’ will get patients home from hospital quicker

The ‘Hospital Transfer Pathway’ or ‘Red Bag’ helps provide a prompt, safe and efficient transfer of care.

Innovative ‘red bags’ will help community patients admitted to hospital be discharged quicker are being rolled out across the country.

Red bags will contain contains a copy of their personal information, past medical history, a supply of medicines and a change of clothes for when they are ready to be discharged.

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The simple initiative started three years ago in Sutton, South West London, and now all areas of the country are being urged to adopt the scheme with a toolkit launched today to help.

As well as giving reassurance to patients, the red bags will provide hospital staff with quick, up-to-date information and medication requirements for the patient, avoiding unnecessary phone calls.

The personal touch makes a big difference.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England National Medical Director, said: “This is an example of where a joined up approach is helping to improve patient care and speed up a stay in hospital for all the right reasons. Sometimes it’s the personal touch that makes a big difference to patients, especially if they’re elderly, and the red bag helps people feel reassured and more at home. Doing more of the obvious is key to improving all our experiences of care.”

Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “This scheme is an excellent example of the NHS and social care system working together to improve care and support for vulnerable older patients. Not only is this more efficient – saving valuable resources – but it’s a much better experience for patients leaving hospital when their treatment has finished.

“It’s encouraging to see this scheme being rolled out across the country as we move towards our ambition of joined up care that is centred around the individual.”

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Government review could lead to the legalisation of medical marijuana

Many argue that painkillers such as morphine are legal despite being an opiate like heroin, so medicalised cannabis should be treated no differently.

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by Chloe Dawson.
Nurses call for the decriminalisation of cannabis for medical use

The government announced it will review its ban on the medical use of marijuana.

Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, announced the review in the House of Commons yesterday, saying there is "a pressing need to allow those who might benefit from cannabis-based medicines to access them", adding “If the review identifies that there are significant medical benefits, then we do intend to reschedule”.

Over 40 countries, including Italy, Finland, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and half of the United States, have decriminalised cannabis in some form and many studies have suggested that cannabis can be useful in the treatment of chronic pain and the management of conditions such as epilepsy.

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In the coming months, Chief Medical Officer, Sally Davies, will review the evidence for cannabis-based medicine and provide a set of recommendations for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Act.

It should be treated in the same way as Morphine.

Many argue that painkillers such as morphine are legal despite being an opiate like heroin, so medicalised cannabis should be treated no differently.

Currently, cannabis is a class-b drug subject to strict restrictions, it cannot be prescribed, administered or supplied to the public, and can only be used for research under a Home Office licence. One exception to this rule is Sativex, which has been available for use as a medicine without the need for a Home Office licence since 2013.

In May, Royal College of Nursing members voted overwhelmingly in favour of calling for the Government to decriminalise the use of cannabis for medical conditions.

Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, has previously said on the issue: “The sorts of conditions we heard about today, the terrible pain that people can be in, if people feel there’s something that will relieve that pain it’s worth a try.”

The government has said "absolutely no plans" to decriminalise the drug for recreational use.

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Unions call for pay deal to be extended to the private sector

Thousands of NHS workers, many of whom are the lowest paid, have been excluded from the deal because they are indirectly employed by the NHS.

Published on

by Ian Snug.
Unions call for pay deal to be extended to the private sector

Healthcare unions have warned that a “dangerous imbalance” between sectors could cause harm to patients.

The Royal College of Nursing and Unite have called on the government to ensure the NHS pay deal is extended to those providing NHS services in social care, the private sector and primary care.

The NHS pay deal, formally accepted by healthcare unions earlier this month, will mean at least a 6.5% increase for the majority of NHS staff in England. Pay negotiations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are ongoing.

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However, thousands of NHS workers employed by social enterprises, general practice, social care, arms-length bodies, independent and charitable providers, have been excluded from the deal because they are indirectly employed by the NHS but still have a direct impact on patient care.

Made to feel like the poor relations.

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite National Officer, said: “Excluding indirectly employed NHS workers from the new pay deal is unjust. It will be a disaster for morale with thousands of low paid NHS workers being made to feel like the poor relations of NHS employees. 

"Regardless of whether an NHS worker is employed by a private company or the NHS, they are still health workers and their contribution to patient’s health must be recognised.”

In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "“I urge you to consider how to address the pay of all nurses and health care assistants providing NHS services, whoever their employer, so that a gap in pay does not result in workers being drawn away from primary, community and social care services.

”This would include those employed by social enterprises, general practice, social care, arms-length bodies, independent and charitable providers.

"I do believe that without this additional funding, we will see a dangerous imbalance of the workforce, which will significantly harm patients of non-NHS services.

"Many of our members delivering NHS services but not employed by NHS organisations complain that they endure poorer working conditions, loss of career and education opportunities,"

"We recommend the establishment of a new and separate national staff council, negotiating for all nurses and care assistants in health and social care who are not directly employed by an NHS organisation."

 

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