How nursing has changed in recent years

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Image by Mark Holloway

You may well have read reports of how unhappy UK nurses now feel with their pay and working conditions.  You may also have read reports of how more and more of our nurses are looking to work overseas.  So here is a quick look at some figures which may explain the reasons behind why this is happening.

In 2008 a Band 5 nurse in our NHS would be earning on average £23,100 per annum.  In real terms that would place him/ her on a salary of £28, 284 in 2016.  However,  the average wage for a Band 5 nurse in 2017 is only £22,437.  In other words qualified nurses in the NHS today have taken a significant pay cut in real terms since 2008.

Inflation has been kept below 2% for most of those years, but the average house price have increased by nearly 33% since 2008.  When a person has a larger percentage of their income being spent on housing then the effect of inflation will be a greater burden on their income.  The average house price in 2008 was 7.3 x the pay of a Band 5 nurse, yet in 2017 the average house price is nearly 10 x that nurses pay.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are even more reasons why nurses may today be packing up and making sure their passport is in date.  Student nurses are now expected to pay their own tuition fees since the abolition of nursing bursaries.  For poorer students without the means to keep themselves, maintenance grants have been abolished and replaced by even more loans.  Many of the poorer students will soon be leaving university with £57,000 of debt.

Student nurses have spoken out about being on placements where there are not enough staff to adequately mentor them to allow them to gain as much from the placement as they should.  Other nurses have spoken out about the pressures they feel when working in wards where there are just not enough of them to care for the patients.  Find out more about the additional pressures on the NHS workforce here.

We have heard of the nurses who use food banks and the nurses who feel constantly bullied at work from managers.  Much has also been said about the effect of Brexit on the NHS workforce.  Our politicians have cynically described them as ‘angels’ before they kick them in the teeth once more.  Many of us will also have described our nurses as angels but if we don’t stand up for them and demand that they be given better pay and conditions than this, we could be accused of being every bit as cynical.

We expect our nurses to be there whenever we need them from the moment we are born to the moment we die.  But they need us to be there for them now.

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