Growing number of nurses considering leaving profession over pay

17 July 2020, 00:59

Nurses from central London hospitals protesting about pay in May
Nurses from central London hospitals protesting about pay in May. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A growing number of nurses are considering leaving the profession with the majority citing pay as the main reason, a poll has found.

The survey, conducted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), found that almost three-quarters of the 41,798 nursing staff polled said increased pay would make them feel more valued.

More than a third (36 per cent) said they are considering quitting their jobs, a nine-point increase on the 27 per cent who said the same when asked at the end of last year.

Six in 10 of those surveyed cited pay as a factor, while the coronavirus pandemic, low staffing levels and a lack of support from management were all concerns of more than 40 per cent of the staff.

The RCN said the results of the poll were alarming due to the 40,000 or so vacancies in England's NHS prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

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NHS nurses protested outside Downing Street in May demanding a pay rise
NHS nurses protested outside Downing Street in May demanding a pay rise. Picture: PA

RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair said: "The responses from our members working in all sectors reveal how their professional lives have been changed by the pandemic.

"Existing tensions have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Earlier sticking plasters are no longer covering gaping holes.

"The Government must take steps to retain the nursing staff we have, as well as to increase entry into the profession.

"Investment in staffing and pay is about both patient safety and the health of our workers.

"That is how to strengthen all NHS and care services to help keep patients safe."

Most of those involved in the study were registered nurses, health visitors or midwives, while only a small number were nursing associates or nursing support workers. Roughly three-quarters worked in the NHS, and the rest were made up of staff from independent sector providers, GP practices, prisons, local authorities, education and the armed forces.

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Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: "Nurses along with other health workers have dealt with huge challenges during the pandemic.

"Even with the drive and commitment they've shown, it's understandable many feel undervalued and some may consider enough's enough.

"That's why it's more important than ever the Government recognises their efforts and helps to hold on to experienced nurses.

"They can do that by giving all NHS staff the fair and early pay rise health unions and the public are calling for."

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A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "We are incredibly grateful for the dedication NHS nursing staff have shown during the pandemic.

"We want to attract and retain brilliant nursing staff, make the NHS the best possible place to work and have 50,000 more nurses by end of this Parliament, with already over 12,000 more nurses joining since last year.

"More than one million NHS workers continue to benefit from the three-year Agenda for Change pay deal, under which the starting pay for a newly qualified nurse has increased by over 12 per cent since 2017/18.

"The independent NHS Pay Review Body makes recommendations to Government on pay increases and we will consider their advice when we receive it."

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