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Scottish nursing staff stretched to breaking point over pay, report reveals

11 Dec 2017

Nurses are feeling under increasing financial pressure and are being stretched to breaking by the demands of their job, according to the results of a new RCN survey.

Nursing staff in Scotland are under immense pressure from financial worries and workload stress, reveals a new survey by the Royal College of Nursing Scotland (RCN). 

Three quarters of nursing staff surveyed by RCN said they felt worse off than they did five years ago, and pressure on personal finances has meant that only 38 per cent said they would recommend nursing as a career.

These are some of the 2017 findings from the major survey of nursing staff carried out by the RCN across the UK every two years. The survey paints a clear picture of the financial struggles now prevalent among nursing staff across all sectors and grades. The survey asked questions about nurses’ experiences across five different subject areas: pay and grading; income and additional work/hours; career satisfaction, development and progression; staffing levels and workloads; and abuse, harassment and bullying.  In advance of the Scottish Parliament’s Budget statement this week, RCN Scotland is today highlighting the findings on pay, hours and career satisfaction - the full report, across all five subject areas, will then form the basis of its evidence to the independent NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) in December, ahead of the PRB’s recommendations to Ministers on nursing staff pay next spring.

Key findings from the 2017 survey are:

  • 74 per cent of members who responded reported feeling financially worse off than they were five years ago.
  • Four in 10 (40 per cent) say money worries are making them lose sleep.  
  • 36 per cent say they are looking for a new job. 
  • 65 per cent say their job band or grade is inappropriate for the work they do, feeling that it no longer matches the responsibilities or intensity of their role.
  • Despite 68 per cent of respondents agreed that nursing is a rewarding only 38 per cent said they would recommend it as a career. 
  • 61 per cent said they were too busy to provide the level of care they would like.

Theresa Fyffe, Director of RCN Scotland, said: 

 “Given the prolonged pay freeze and soaring nursing vacancies left unfilled it is no surprise that our survey highlights that the morale of nurses and health care support workers in our NHS is plummeting.

“For too long the concerns of Scotland’s nursing teams have been ignored, and nurses have been suggesting they don’t have the resources to fulfil their jobs properly. The Scottish Government must fulfil its commitment to raise living standards and aid recruitment by confirming an above inflation pay award for hard-pressed nursing staff in the budget. 

“It shouldn’t be the case that nurses and health care support workers are taking on a second job, or leaving a job that they love because they are struggling to make ends meet.

“The survey’s findings should fire a warning shot across the bows, for the Scottish Government our nursing workforce is at breaking point. The Scottish Government has the opportunity to ensure nursing staff receive the pay they deserve and to address the workload challenges with its proposed safe staffing legislation, safeguarding nursing in Scotland for generations to come.

“Nursing teams on the frontline have spoken out; it is now up to those in positions of power to listen and to act fast.”