Comment

Jane Bates: It's time to be pushy

After the pay debacle and with staffing in crisis, it’s time for nursing leaders to be more pushy on behalf of the profession, says Jane Bates

After the pay debacle and with staffing in crisis, it’s time for nursing leaders to be more pushy on behalf of the profession, says Jane Bates


Picture: iStock

Did you see the news last week? Top slots were given to the police, the prison service and the armed forces, who are all short-staffed, with the staff they do have feeling demoralised due to poor pay and conditions.

Their leaders have been speaking up passionately and judiciously about their plight, and what it will mean to our vital public services if it all goes horribly wrong.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick called the government’s decision to award a 2% pay increase a ‘punch on the nose’ for officers, warning that it would damage morale and be detrimental to recruitment and retention.

There’s no mystery

The NHS was only given a fleeting mention in the programme I saw, namely that staff are leaving at an unprecedented rate but the reasons are unknown.

Unknown? How can this be a mystery? If our representatives were doing their job, as their cousins in other arms of the public sector are doing, everyone would know why nurses are leaving.

There has been next to nothing in the media about the pay-rise-that-hardly-happened, and very little about the crisis that will unfold this winter because even more front-line staff have jumped ship. Our leaders and unions should be harassing and nagging, demanding top slot too.

True nurse style

But it’s just not us, is it? Shouty and pushy behaviour – that wouldn’t represent nurses at all. Our responses are measured, understated. We’re not in it for the money, remember? Even after the pay rise debacle in July we kept calm (mostly) and carried on in true nurse style.

But the situation now is too critical for us to be self-effacing, too serious for us to be stoic.

Depending on the outcome of this month’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM), it could be all change for the leadership of the RCN. Perhaps the new regime should be shouty and pushy, willing to stand up and speak up and dance to a different tune from the one the politicians are playing.

When there is a shortfall of more than 40,000 nurses, being reasonable is no longer an option.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

 

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