To the editor,
We wish to respond to some of the negative comments towards Guernsey nurses following the rejection of their pay offer from the States of Guernsey. This has caused much disappointment and distress to our members and we wish to take the opportunity to set the record straight
It is an indisputable fact that there is a worldwide shortage of registered nurses. In the UK alone there are more than 40,000 vacancies and rising. In this economy, Guernsey needs to work hard to recruit and retain nurses, both local and off island, and one vehicle for this is pay.
In the 2017 pay negotiations, after a great deal of pressure, the States agreed a review of full Nurses terms and conditions and appointed Dean Royles to complete this. He produced a full and considered report in late 2018. The RCN hasn’t asked the cost of this review to the Guernsey taxpayer but I think it would be fair to believe it cannot have been cheap. The review was to be presented to the States Assembly with a full list of recommendations by the end of March 2019. To date, the RCN has merely received an ‘action plan’ and we have already expressed our dissatisfaction with this. Nurses are deeply saddened that a report they invested in has effectively been dismissed and disregarded by P&R with many of the key recommendations either ignored or kicked down the dirt track to be looked at later in the year, if at all. This debacle has further left Guernsey nurses feeling undervalued and demoralised but also extremely angry due to promises not kept.
The Royles report highlighted that only 12% of registered nurses in Guernsey are currently satisfied with their pay. This figure includes the nurses attracted to work in Guernsey from off Island who currently get ‘top up’ bonuses of up to £3000 for 2-4 years served. The facts are that when these cease they will leave. This is the discrepancy revealed in the Royles report: nursing pay may look attractive with additional bonuses and rent allowance added in, but when these stop or you are a ‘local’ nurse who doesn’t receive any of this, then rent, food, childcare, healthcare bills pile up to make living and working on the Island unsustainable. This has to be a false economy when one considers the cost of overtime and agency rates that need to be paid just to keep the wards and community staffed and patients’ safe.
Just pay Guernsey nurses a fair wage and the Island should thrive as it is a beautiful place to work in. The States of Jersey have just realised this with their recent commitment that Jersey nurses should have pay parity for jobs in health by the end of the year. It is inevitable that this decision that values nurses will improve recruitment and retention on Jersey.
Guernsey nurses aren’t greedy. They are simply seeking equal pay for work of equal value with other professions on the Island as well as the Allied Health Professionals working with them on the wards paid on established rates. It cannot be right and fair that two professionals doing similar jobs get paid so differently. This is something Guernsey nurses have endured for many years and they now believe it is time to say to the States of Guernsey that enough is enough! Guernsey nurses have waited too long for pay parity and equity and this needs sorting out now.
We call on the Guernsey public to support their Nurses in their fight. You will see them out and about on their campaign. Please give them a clap, come and talk, send the postcard to your Deputy, display our car and window stickers with pride.
Regional Director South East Region