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Nurses are being forced into food poverty by paltry pay deals

Below-inflation pay offers for NHS staff are to blame for rise of workplace food banks, former prime minister Gordon Brown tells nurses
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown addresses RCN congress in Glasgow 2022

Below-inflation pay offers for NHS staff are to blame for the rise of workplace food banks, former prime minister Gordon Brown tells nurses

Nurses are lining up at food banks or skipping meals to feed their children, former prime minister Gordon Brown said.

Mr Brown called for an end to ‘food bank Britain’ and decent wages to support nurses who are ‘begging and borrowing’ to make ends meet.

Nurse staffing is a humanitarian issue

Speaking at the RCN’s annual congress in Glasgow , he said investment in the NHS workforce was needed to tackle the UK shortage of nursing staff, adding it was no longer a

Below-inflation pay offers for NHS staff are to blame for the rise of workplace food banks, former prime minister Gordon Brown tells nurses

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown address RCN congress in Glasgow 2022
Former prime minister Gordon Brown addresses the RCN’s congress in Glasgow Picture: John Houlihan

Nurses are lining up at food banks or skipping meals to feed their children, former prime minister Gordon Brown said.

Mr Brown called for an end to ‘food bank Britain’ and decent wages to support nurses who are ‘begging and borrowing’ to make ends meet.

Nurse staffing is a humanitarian issue

Speaking at the RCN’s annual congress in Glasgow, he said investment in the NHS workforce was needed to tackle the UK shortage of nursing staff, adding it was no longer a party-political issue but a humanitarian one.

‘Thousands of nurses report that, because of the cost-of-living crisis, they are skipping meals so they can feed their children,’ he said.

‘The best way we can reward the nurses of Britain for what they did for us during the pandemic is ensuring decent wages and working conditions. Our nurses cared for us – it’s time for us to care for them.’

‘I hate the idea of nurses doing long shifts and then having to leave the beds of their patients to queue up for food parcels. That is simply not the way to treat the nurses of Britain’

Mr Brown added nurses have the public’s backing, adding that if there were to be a referendum on giving the NHS a decent pay rise, it would have ‘near unanimous’ support.

Nurses’ charity reports steep rise in calls for help as hospitals set up food banks for staff

His comments come as number of NHS employers have set up food banks and food swap schemes to support staff struggling to pay bills as energy and fuel costs rise.

Cavell Nurses’ Trust, which supports nurses in financial crisis, reported a 140% rise in the number of people seeking help in the first four months of 2022 since the same period in 2021. And RCN welfare services are warning many nurses could tip into debt in the next six months as financial situations become more dire.

Below-inflation pay offers are leaving nurses worse-off

Mr Brown told his audience that repeated offers of below-inflation pay awards were leaving nurses much worse-off.

‘Too many nurses are lining up at food banks. I hate the idea of nurses doing long shifts and then having to leave the beds of their patients to queue up for food parcels. That is simply not the way to treat the nurses of Britain and it’s got to stop,’ he added.

‘Surely, as a country, we didn’t come all this way to end up in the year 2022 with food banks, bedding banks, baby banks, and clothes banks replacing the welfare state as our last line of defence against poverty and low pay.’

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