Nurses’ annual leave is more important than ever

A more generous pay deal must be part of the government’s response to the nurse staffing crisis – but reports that it has proposed nurses give up a day off in return for better salaries have been met with anger

Of all the cuts that have been made in the English NHS in an attempt to balance the books, slashing the money spent on nurses’ continuing professional development (CPD) was perhaps the daftest of all.

Its short-sightedness should be obvious, given that staff retention rates are almost sure to plummet as a result, and patient outcomes to worsen.

Couple this lack of investment in nurses’ future with a parsimonious approach to pay, then remove students’ bursaries and replace with course fees, and it is hardly surprising that there are problems at every stage of the workforce supply chain.

Trading annual leave for better pay

So it was refreshing to hear England’s chief nurse Jane Cummings, when answering questions at her annual conference last week, acknowledge that access to CPD funding and a more generous pay deal must be part of the government’s response to the staffing crisis.

If press reports are to be believed – and not all rumours of this nature turn out to be fake news – one option being considered is for NHS staff to forgo one day’s annual leave in return for higher salaries.

Most of those who have commented on Nursing Standard’s Facebook page have reacted angrily, arguing that nurses should not have to fund their own pay rise in this way.

Some have noted that burnout is commonplace among healthcare professionals, who can struggle to find a healthy work-life balance. This makes adequate annual leave more important than ever.

Let us know what you think about the idea – write to letters@rcni.com

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