Give UK Nurses regular pay rises considering the risks to their physical & mental health.
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We are on the front line.
Nurses have a long standing history of being underpaid, overworked and undervalued in the UK. Unlike some sectors, for example Engineering and construction, nurses do not get paid based off of risk assessment despite it being a well known fact that shift work can be significantly detrimental to their health and well being.
The risks posed to nurses' mental health speaks for itself, bearing witness to difficult things including being there for families during death and grief on a regular basis. In terms of physical health, 12.5 hour combined day and night shifts are known to take their toll physically. Nurses are regularly exposed to infectious patients, and although are provided with protective equipment, are regularly exposed to infections before they are diagnosed. Excluding the development of COVID-19, there are multiple other infectious conditions that nurses are expected to deal with on a daily basis.
As well as paying £9,000 a year at University to become a nurse, and an annual fee thereafter of £100, the average nurse earns approximately £23,000 per year, compared to starting salaries of risk assessment associated sectors such as construction, who earn approximately £45,000 plus pay rises.
It is my intention to use the development of COVID-19 to shine a spotlight on nurses and midwives - to get the appropriate, regular risk associated pay rises that they deserve. It is time for the government to realise that it does not pay to neglect front line staff.
If people who are already underpaid are regularly put at risk and under pressure without incentive, do you think that they will stay in the profession despite it not being worth it? Do you think that the country would be able to cope, considering the fact that we already have a limited number of front line staff? In light of this outbreak, have you considered that many nurses will be financially supporting family members who are on 0 hour contracts or work in non-essential sectors?
Of course there has been talk of pay rises in the UK before, but we have yet to feel it. Many nurses have been leaving to work in countries like Australia, who pay their nurses up to $60,000 (approximately £40, 000) per annum.
Being a nurse myself, I have seriously considered this option. I love my job and have been qualified for 2 years, however last year I began to seriously consider either leaving the country or the profession all together - and I know that I am not alone.
It is such a shame that an amazing organisation such as the NHS are losing so many staff through no fault of it's own.
I personally struggle with the long shifts and often working nights and weekends, and combined with the type of high stress situations we deal with whilst providing care has honestly pushed me to leaving.
I have to admit feeling frustrated when learning that friends who work in offices, earn significantly more than me, for honestly doing less. Not that they don't deserve it, just being a young person trying to get on the property ladder and living in London don't exactly go hand in hand.
Why should I stay? I can leave, earn more money and get on the property ladder without posing risks to my physical and mental well being.
To those who will say that this fault lies with the NHS, this is not the case. It is the government's choice to fund the sectors that they believe are most valuable.
Whilst you may be self-isolating or working from home, please help to support the people that are always supporting us, no matter the risks posed to them. It is the 'Year of the Nurse' after all.
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