“Every day I hear stories of nurses going further and further into hardship.”
So says Danielle Tiplady, the community nurse who started the petition to scrap nurses’ pay caps, to be debated by MPs today.
Since 2010, nurses have had a 1% cap on their pay rises, meaning their wages don’t match the rate of inflation.
As a result, one Unison survey has reported that some nurses are resorting to food banks and payday loans to provide for their families.
“My friend owns a flat,” Tiplady continues “and because of the pay restraint, she can barely afford to pay her mortgage so she’s living off of beans on toast and is now at the point where she cannot afford her mortgage anymore.
“She’s going to sell her flat and move home with her parents, she’s in her 30s – that’s disgusting,” she says.
Graham Revie, of the Royal College of Nursing wants the government to recognise how hard nurses are working.
He says: “We’re already in crisis, we’re already suffering – our nurses are working harder and harder trying to hold things together. The country needs to recognise this.
“I hope from today that we will achieve recognition that we work hard on behalf of all of our patients – we do that day in day out – and we’re underpaid.”
But according to an exclusive NHS statement for City Online, today’s debate is unlikely to affect nurses’ pay rises.
While they say: “NHS staff, including nurses, are our greatest asset and their dedication and sheer hard work is absolutely crucial to delivering world-class care for patients.” They suggest that they “will continue to fund public sector pay awards at an average of 1% next year”.
Tiplady says she will continue working to overturn the pay restraint and even increase wages saying “we need a pay rise over inflation, we’ve lost 14% since 2010 and they think this is acceptable when they get an 11% pay rise, it’s an absolute disgrace”.
Financial Breaking Point
The 1% pay rise cap is not the only financial barrier facing nurses.
The Royal College of Midwives claim that plans to cut trainee nurses’ bursaries could contribute to staff shortages, as less people can afford to train.
Rachel Hawksworth completed her degree last year and decided to take a year away from studying to get hands-on work placements and some time off before training as a nurse.
But Jeremy Hunt’s plans to cut the nurse bursary programme by 2017 meant she was not able to take a gap year before starting her training, as without a bursary it is too expensive.
Danielle Tiplady believes the scrapping of bursaries and the introduction of the pay cap will end in “nurses leaving the profession”.