We see it every day in the cash-strapped health boards and integration authorities really struggling to make ends meet. And we experience it every day in our own lives, continually feeling, to coin a familiar phrase, overworked and underpaid.
And now, slightly strangely, a potential pay offer for NHS staff is adding to the pressure.
Pay is at once a matter for the whole profession, affecting recruitment and retention, and every individual nurse working in the NHS, having a major impact on how we view our place in the profession as well as how we all live our lives.
The offer to NHS staff in England, which our fellow RCN members working there are currently considering, is the starting point for negotiations taking place right now for a deal for NHS staff in Scotland.
So we are, as Stewart Donnelly, RCN Scotland Board Chair, has previously described it, in a ‘curious limbo, without a firm deal of our own as yet but with a ‘ghost’ deal to speculate about’. Inevitably, there has been plenty of speculation. Not a surprise given the unique set of circumstances and the pressures on us all.
What is important is that we base our opinion on facts, not hearsay or rumour. I’ve heard and read a lot of speculation that is wide of the mark when compared with the details of the deal on offer in England.
What’s also important is that we come together as a union. I don’t mean that everyone should have the same opinion. But together, we need to help each other to find and understand the detail of a deal for NHS staff in Scotland, albeit once that has been negotiated.
If we can achieve this, then when we have the opportunity to have our say, the collective voice of nurses in Scotland will be heard loud and clear.