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Number of nurses given hardship payments rockets at start of 2017

The number of hardship grants handed to struggling nurses have soared in the first three months of the year.

The number of hardship grants handed to struggling nurses have soared in the first three months of the year.

Hardship
From January to March 2017, 131 grants were handed out by the RCN Foundation's
Lamplight Support Service – it handed out 100 grants in the same period in 2016. Credit: iStock

The RCN has seen a 25% increase in loans handed out, while the Cavell Nurses’ Trust reported a 56% increase in welfare enquiries during the first quarter of this year, when compared to 2016.

The growing numbers of nurses in financial difficulty comes as the RCN polls members about whether to go on strike over pay.

If nurses indicate they want to take industrial action over pay restraint, then a formal ballot will take place.

Pay caps and freezes

The RCN says that nurses wages have fallen by 14% in real terms due to pay freezes and the 1% pay cap.

In the first three months of 2017, 131 grants with an average of £500 were handed out by the RCN Foundation’s Lamplight Support Service. This compared to 100 in 2016.

In 2016, more than 700 nurses applied for grants, an increase of almost 50% since the pay freeze took effect in 2010, the RCN said.

Hard times

Nurses are twice as likely to experience financial hardship than the rest of the population, according to a survey carried out last year by the Cavell Nurses’ Trust, a charity which supports nurses in personal and financial difficulties.

The survey of 2,200 nurses, midwives and HCAs found that 37% of nurses [excluding midwives and HCAs] could not afford a week’s holiday, and 7% could not keep their home adequately warm.


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