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Bar shifts and missed family events are the new norm for nurses

Nurses are missing special family occasions as they take on work in bars and extra shifts just to make ends meet.

Nurse hardships mean that many in the profession are missing special family occasions as they take on work in bars and extra shifts just to make ends meet.


Many nurses are working extra shifts in bars to make ends meet. Picture: Alamy

The new interim director for the RCN South West says nurses in Devon and Cornwall were often the main breadwinner and were struggling to cope with falling income and rising living costs.

Sarah Zanoni said she had met around 1,000 members face-to-face as part of the RCN’s scrap the cap campaign, which is calling for the removal of the 1% cap on public sector pay.

‘Heartbreaking stories’

She told Nursing Standard: ‘Some of the stories they are telling us are heartbreaking.

‘Rather than take days off, nurses are doing bank shifts to get more money because they can’t make ends meet without it.

‘We then have more staff who are going off to do a bar job as well to get those extra pennies in. We have people talking about missing special days and events such as children’s birthdays because they are working extra shifts.’

She added that it was known that nurses were having to use foodbanks and hardship was particularly acute among single parents and those who are the main household earner.

‘On their knees’

‘On the south west peninsula in Cornwall and Devon nurses are often the main breadwinner and trying to look after a family on a nursing salary is just not enough to have a decent family life,’ she said.

Ms Zanoni said nurses were ‘on their knees’ exhausted with the demands of delivering high-quality patient care with staffing difficulties and also holding down extra jobs to pay the bills.

‘It cannot be right that our nurses who are looking after the health of the public have to worry about how they are going to feed their families.

‘Every time their kids come home from school talking about  a school trip that they have to tell them they can’t go,’ she said.

She said nurses in her region had been hit increased rail fares, which are set to rise by 3.6% in January, and a lack of affordable housing with some parts of Cornwall ‘unaffordable for even millionaires’.

September RCN rally

Ms Zanoni added that students were having to travel further for placements with some being asked to travel from Plymouth to Taunton, a 150-mile round trip.

Meanwhile, she said mature students and healthcare assistants were being put off a career change to nursing because of the move from a student bursary to a system to loans.

Ms Zanoni said the  situation had politicised many nurses with around 100 preparing to travel to London for the RCN’s biggest-ever rally to be held in Parliament Square on 6 September.


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