Increase the basic salary of NHS nurses

Increase the basic salary of NHS nurses

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Nidhin Scaria started this petition to UK Parliament and

Nursing is a noble and a highly skilled profession. It takes at least 3 years of university training and months of clinical practice to start a career in nursing and it is not an easy job at all. Nurses go through so many challenges on a daily basis - high patient-nurse ratios, understaffing and long working hours to name a few. But is the profession really worth it?

At present, there are almost 44,000 nursing vacancies across the NHS (12% of the nursing workforce), but this could hit 100,000 in a decade, according to a new report by Health Foundation charity. And this ever increasing shortage is already putting tremendous pressure on the nurses currently in practice; no wonder many of them are looking for alternate career options that pay more and give less stress. Why don’t more youngsters choose nursing as a  promising career? Could it be because it is not as rewarding as it sounds?

The NHS is relying on less qualified staff to plug workforce gaps because of a huge shortage of nurses, according to the new report. Support staff, such as healthcare assistants and nursing associates, have been used to shore up staffing numbers. This successively leads to poor patient care standards and puts more pressure on the already struggling NHS. The NHS has relied upon overseas recruitment, but a lack of EU nurses because of Brexit means it is now taking more nurses from countries such as India and the Philippines. These non-EU citizens need a Tier-2 work visa to work in the UK. In 2018, 25% of non-EU citizens receiving their first Tier 2 (general) visa were to earn less than £30,000 (the minimum threshold for a Tier - 2 general work visa), according to Home Office data on Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS), obtained by FOI request. The most important reason for this is the public service occupations rule, and particularly the fact that it covers nurses—the largest occupation sponsored on Tier 2 (general) work visas. Nurses made up 57% of all workers earning less than £30,000 in 2018. Among nurses, 90% were earning less than £30,000.

Moreover, Tier - 2 holders who wish to get settled in the UK and serve the nation lifelong ( Indefinite Leave to Remain) must provide proof that they earn £35,800 a year or more (the ‘minimum earnings threshold’) in the main job they’re sponsored for. This rule is meant to ensure only highly skilled workers come to the UK. So, according to the Home Office and the government, a highly skilled worker is a person who earns at least £35,800 a year, or in other words, that should be the salary a highly skilled worker should get in the UK. By contrast, the basic salary of a Band-5 Nurse in the NHS is only £24,214. Thus, nursing is clearly not considered as a highly skilled profession by the government or NHS. Fortunately for overseas nurses the threshold doesn’t apply, only and only because the profession is in the shortage occupation list. 

This situation must change. Aspiring people should find nursing attractive and pick it as a long term career pathway. I sincerely plead the UK government and the National Health Service to regard the profession highly and give nurses the recognition and payment they deserve. In my opinion that should be the only sustainable and permanent way of mending the huge shortage of nurses in the NHS, increase the quality of clientcare and thus save lives, time and money. 

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