Stark figures show the true impact of years of real-terms pay cuts on the frontline workers who have worked tirelessly since the start of the pandemic.
Nearly half (45%) of nurses said they often worked at a higher level of clinical responsibility than they are paid for with 28% saying they were doing the jobs of two people due to chronic understaffing.
Over half (52%) said they often stayed more than an hour after their shift had finished to provide essential patient care – an overwhelming majority (94%) said this was usually unpaid. This unpaid work averaged at 162 hours of work per year – a real-terms financial loss of £2,592.
Spending habits show that nurses, on average, spend around £200 per month to feed a family of four, in March 2018 the ONS placed the average UK household spend on food at £58 per week.
In contrast nurses are spending £412 a month paying off unsecured debts like credit cards, pay day loans and mail order catalogues.
A massive 85% of nurses said they are running in a financial deficit – spending more each month than they earn.
Within BAME communities these figures worsen with 91% saying they run in a financial deficit and only spend, on average, £185 per month on food and essentials. BAME nurses were statistically less likely to owe money to unsecured providers but were more likely to owe money to friends, family and colleagues.
Jemma James, a frontline registered nurse, said, “Nurses have given our hearts, souls and lives to protect and treat patients, even before the pandemic; but blood, sweat and tears don’t pay the bills.
“Yes, we care, but Nursing isn’t a vocation and caring shouldn’t be used as a stick to beat us into submission whenever we ask for better pay and conditions. We’re trained professionals who’ve worked long and hard to become Registered Nurses. We aren’t angels or heroes, we’re human beings, doing our best despite brutal funding cuts and plummeting staff numbers.
“We deserve to be paid a wage that reflects our skills and responsibilities. A wage that lets us live, not just survive. Otherwise this may be the final straw for a lot of Nurses, and the frontline is the only line we have.”
Anthony Johnson, lead organiser for Nurses United UK added, “It is pretty disgraceful that this Government wants NHS workers to pay to work on the frontlines during a pandemic.
“It is no wonder there are 100,000 unfilled vacancies across the UK in England when our nurses are having to stay late unpaid just to ensure patient care is not compromised.
“Everybody from NHS to this Government knows that pay is directly linked to the number of staff we have. We need to make we provide a restorative 15% pay increase so that when a patient pulls that call bell a nurse is available to answer it.”
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