Reading between the lines of the proposed pay deal
Despite the government's latest decision to allow pay to increase, staff nurse Emma Cowen is hesitant over the committment, and warns you to give the proposal a second – and third – read.
Despite the government's latest decision to allow pay to increase, staff nurse Emma Cowen is hesitant over the commitment, and warns you to give the proposal a second – and third – read.
The government has agreed to give us a pay rise – finally.
You may feel the temptation to get excited about this, or feel like we have won. Don’t. A quick read of the proposed deal is confusing. A more thorough read is still confusing, but with the addition of a slow sinking-heart feeling.
The terms of the deal are murky and convoluted; the pay rise seems to be spread out over several years and each banding is subject to different pay criteria. While the terms are still being finalised and nothing is formally agreed yet, there are alarming references to fundamental changes being made to our annual leave provision and our unsocial pay - perhaps in the future but I think they are there. Arguably, these are the two reasons – aside from sheer determination and love for our patients – that there are any nurses still left working in the NHS.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Any shift worker will tell you that annual leave is often the 'light at the end of tunnel' needed to get through a particularly brutal run of shifts. Removal or reduction of unsocial pay would also be a huge blow to shift workers.
The negative health implications of working night shifts are well documented, plus working nights and weekends means you miss out on social events, and time with friends and family. Why should we not be compensated for this?
Nurses are sick and tired of being treated like mindless ‘handmaidens’ who don’t deserve the simple respect of being paid fairly.
Take the time to read the T&Cs
The government thinks we are too busy being caring to be clever, but we know we are both.
Everyone must take the time to read the terms and decide how they want to act. This is not abstract, this is not happening in the future. It is happening now, to you.
About the author
Emma Cowen is a staff nurse in the children's emergency department at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Brighton