It’s time for fair pay for the heroes in our hospitals

Nurses deserve to be properly paid, says Jane Reynolds. PHOTO: IAN BURT.

Nurses deserve to be properly paid, says Jane Reynolds. PHOTO: IAN BURT. - Credit: IAN BURT

Isn't it about time the government steps up to the mark and invests in the backbone of the NHS by awarding their staff a fair pay rise?

I can't understand why its been ok for politicians to award themselves big pay rises like their 10% pay rise in 2015 and ongoing pay rises since, when NHS staff and other public sector workers have been capped at 1% since 2013 and before this nurses' pay was actually frozen.

In real terms the pay cap has meant that NHS nurses have actually had a pay cut of £3,000 since 2010 when you take into account the rate of inflation and the cost of living in 2017.

Moreover it isn't just NHS nurses whose wages have been frozen and capped at 1% since 2013 due to the government austerity measures, but it includes other public sector workers and most of the NHS staff including secretaries, radiographers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, porters, healthcare assistants, receptionists, and and the list goes on.

In fact it includes most NHS staff you come across in a hospital or the community with the exception of doctors and hospital managers whose pay is calculated separately.

To make matters worse this year, the government has now made student nurses pay for their own three-year training as they've stopped paying bursaries. Obviously this has just added to the slump of 19% in new applicants since 2015 and will impact on the understaffed NHS.

It's inevitable that hundreds of student nurses who start their training will never complete it for financial reasons.

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Student nurse training is tough enough already juggling study with working on your NHS hospital wards, and now with the the added pressure of paying for it themselves out of their own pockets they're stacking up huge debts of up to £69,000.

Plus they have to work in other jobs at night and weekends just to keep their heads above water.

So to then be undervalued and poorly paid once qualified, I'm afraid many student nurses will think it's just not worth the effort and who can blame them?

A newly-qualified nurse's basic pay is only £22,000 year in the NHS and out of that they are not only paying their bills, but paying back student loans. They even have to fork out to keep themselves on the nursing register.

So who can blame registered nurses then if they leave the NHS and turn to a nursing agency instead where they can be paid upwards of £26 an hour for exactly the same work in the very same NHS hospital?

It's madness as it's actually costing the NHS far more to keep their wards staffed these days as they're having to resort to thousands of agency nurses to plug the gaps due to vacancies upwards of 30,000 in the NHS overall.

I believe a major factor in the failings of the NHS is because the government have not invested in their own NHS staff; they have invested in themselves and in the process have made NHS workers feel undervalued.

Staff who remain loyal to the NHS, just want a fair pay that keeps up with the cost of living.

Nurses shouldn't have to demonstrate outside parliament and vote on striking like they are being made to do. It isn't what caring and compassionate people do, but they have a right to demonstrate like any other workers.

The Royal College of Nursing and other unions are already backing them and I believe the public are behind the campaign too.

If the NHS goes down, our country will go under as its hardworking staff are keeping it afloat.