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Nurses leaving the NHS for better paid jobs in shops and bars

Research by NHS Providers reveals that two thirds of trusts are reporting a severe effect on staffing, with nurses leaving to seek jobs in higher paid sectors

Research by NHS Providers reveals that two thirds of trusts are reporting a severe effect on staffing, with nurses leaving to seek jobs in higher paid sectors

Nurses and other NHS staff are leaving for better paid jobs in shops and hospitality as they face spiralling costs of living, according to a survey of trust leaders.

Many have also reported skipping meals to feed and clothe their children as wages fail to keep pace with inflation.

The survey by NHS Providers

Research by NHS Providers reveals that two thirds of trusts are reporting a severe effect on staffing, with nurses leaving to seek jobs in higher paid sectors

Nurses and other NHS staff are leaving for better paid jobs in shops, for example
Picture: iStock

Nurses and other NHS staff are leaving for better paid jobs in shops and hospitality as they face spiralling costs of living, according to a survey of trust leaders.

Many have also reported skipping meals to feed and clothe their children as wages fail to keep pace with inflation.

The survey by NHS Providers found two thirds (68%) of trusts were reporting a ‘significant or severe impact’ from staff leaving for other sectors where conditions and terms are better. Overall 27% of trusts are offering food banks for staff, while a further 19% are planning to do so.

Nurses having to choose between food and buying their children school uniforms

NHS Providers director of policy and strategy Miriam Deakin said increasing numbers of nurses and other staff, particularly in the lower pay bands, are finding they are unable to afford to work in the NHS.

‘The sad fact is some can earn more working for online retailers or in supermarkets,’ she said. ‘A number of trusts are providing food banks. There are heart-rending stories of nurses choosing between eating during the day and being able to buy a school uniform for their children at home.

‘Others are taking second jobs. We have heard of staff stopping their pension contributions and not being able to fill up their cars to get to work.’

Some 71% of trust leaders reported that many staff are struggling to afford travel to work, while 61% reported a rise in mental health-related absences.

Some trusts have reported paying staff in advance for fuel while others have helped to buy school uniforms for their workers’ children.

Record numbers of nurses quitting NHS England

Analysis by the Nuffield Trust for the BBC has revealed record numbers of nurses quit the NHS in England in the last year, with more than 40,000 leaving their jobs.

The think tank said one in nine were leaving the workforce, with many being highly skilled and knowledgeable nurses with years more work left.

Previous analysis by Nursing Standard also showed more than 34,000 nurses left their jobs in the previous year, with the most common reasons for leaving being retirement, relocation and the effects on work-life balance.

The effect of the cost of living crisis on recruitment and retention

While the cost of living crisis is affecting lower paid staff the most, the pressures are being felt across the board, NHS Providers said.

‘The most worrying thing for us in the NHS is the direct and chilling effect the cost of living crisis is having on recruitment and retention,’ said Ms Deakin.

‘The NHS already had a problem with vacancies and our fear is that will just get worse. Trust leaders are seeing a slowdown in people willing to join the NHS, as well as staff looking to join other industries, such as hospitality or retail, which offer more competitive pay.’

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen added: ‘When half of the NHS needs to open food banks for its own staff, ministers’ heads should be hanging in shame.’


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