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69% of North West student nurses consider working abroad

18 Jun 2015

The Government’s ongoing attack on NHS pay is making most student nurses feel undervalued before they have even qualified, and risks causing a brain drain as newly qualified nurses look for fairer pay outside the NHS.

The survey of the RCN’s student members has found that the recent decision to deny NHS staff a small cost of living increase has left the country’s future nurses feeling anxious about their finances, and under-appreciated by the government.

Regional data:

  • 86% of student nurses polled across the North West said they either “agreed” or “agreed strongly” with the statement: “I am angry about the Government's decision on nurses pay”
  • 91% of student nurses polled across the North West said they either “agreed” or “agreed strongly” with the statement: “the Government's decision on pay has made me feel undervalued and unappreciated”
  • 58% of student nurses polled across the North West felt nurses were either “poorly paid” or “very poorly paid”
  • 70% of student nurses polled across the North West felt that, in comparison with other public sector workers such as trainee teachers and trainee police officers, nurses are “poorly paid” or “very poorly paid”

67% of student nurses polled across the North West felt that, compared to trainee workers in the non-public sector – for example, industry, retail and business – when considering the total reward package (pay, plus pensions, plus annual leave etc), nurses are “poorly rewarded” or “very poorly rewarded”

This is forcing many to reconsider working in the NHS as they see the consequences of years of pay freezes on the living standards and morale of the nurses they work with on placements.

Estephanie Dunn, Regional Director for the RCN North West Region said:

“The results of the RCN’s survey- which is part of a wider national survey carried out between July and September 2014, shows that nursing students are feeling disheartened and unvalued by the current government’s outrageous and unfair policy on NHS pay. NHS Trusts across the region are struggling to recruit and retain nursing staff. And yet, because of the Government’s refusal to pay a cost of living increase for nurses and health care assistants, we now have the very real possibility of seeing many of our current student nurses leaving the country to work abroad, where pay, terms and conditions are superior.  

69% of the current crop of nursing students across the North West told us that they are actively considering pursuing a career in nursing abroad, because the current state of nursing pay is so woeful. The Government needs to urgently get a grip before we see a brain drain out of the profession. Canada and Australia are currently actively recruiting nurses from the UK, because they know that the quality and skills that our nurses have are second to none. But unless we start delivering significant improvements to pay, terms and conditions for our nurses, the 20,000 shortfall in nurses nationwide is only going to grow larger.”