Weston nurses moonlighting as cleaners and using foodbanks as pay cap spells tough times
PUBLISHED: 07:29 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 07:41 02 August 2017
Nurses in Weston-super-Mare are having to take on second jobs to top up their salary, as the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says nine out of 10 nurses would support strike action to secure a fairer pay rise.
The Government recently voted to keep a one per cent cap on pay rises for nurses, but the RCN’s representative for Weston says something must change.
Nationally the RCN says nurse salaries have fallen by 14 per cent in real terms since 2010, leaving them £3,000 worse off.
Weston General Hospital nurse Malcolm Chalk, who is the town’s RCN representative, told the Mercury nurses deserve and need a pay rise of at least five per cent.
He said: “I spoke to someone the other day, a nurse at the top of her band level, who has an extra job as a cleaner to top up her salary.”
Malcolm said nurses are not getting enough recognition to warrant the high levels of stress they face during every 12-hour shift.
He added: “I have been a nurse for 10 years and in that time what we do has changed dramatically, we do a lot more.
“You have got nurse practitioners, nurse consultants, and nurses who can prescribe the same drugs as doctors – but people don’t realise that.”
An RCN survey of its members found 90 per cent supported strike action against the pay cap.
Council members for RCN South West, Vicky Brotherton and Lors Alford, said nurses’ families are ‘paying the price’ of the pay cap.
They added: “Some are forced to take on second jobs and even use foodbanks.
“At the same time, nurses and healthcare assistants across the South West are having to cope with health services which have never been so busy, with staff spread thinly due to... unfilled nursing jobs.”
One option for nurses to make extra cash is to work for an agency which hospitals use to cover unfilled shifts.
But Mr Chalk said agency work is a ‘catch 22’ and told the Mercury: “Nursing agencies is one of our biggest bills, but while we’re paying out a fortune for agency nurses it discourages a pay rise for general nurses.”
He said agency nurses can also affect staff morale, as they will often be paid three times more than a staff nurse.
He added: “Agency nursing is an attractive option, I can understand why people do it, but I think it’s a greedy option for some people and nursing isn’t about that, it’s about looking after people not trying to make the most money.
“Some agency nurses are good, but a lot are not because they don’t know the hospital, the wards, or the A&E, which means you end up supporting them because their skill set isn’t right.”