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Is it ever acceptable to expect nurses to take a pay cut?

With bank staff at one trust facing a pay cut of up to 20%, our readers have their say

Nurses who work bank shifts at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Essex are facing a pay cut of up to 20%. The trust is bringing its bank rates down to Agenda for Change (AfC) levels because it is merging with two trusts that only pay AfC rates for bank shifts. Nursing Standard readers have their say

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Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham

Considering nurses represent a large percentage of the workforce and trusts are searching for ways to cut costs, this initiative is hardly surprising. However, it sends a dangerous message, especially with the recent cut to the nursing degree student bursary. Nurses deserve a decent salary for our vital contribution to the health of the nation. And as much of our work is preventing further complications, it is money well spent. At a time when we should be encouraging people to enter the nursing profession, it is unacceptable that nurses should face a pay cut.

Grant Byrne is a nursing student in Edinburgh

Nursing requires intelligence, initiative and patience in spades, yet with the new pay rates proposed by Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust you would be better off working in a call centre. I should know – I work in one. On bank holidays and nights, I would earn more in my entry-level part-time position than a nurse on a bank shift, which beggars belief. If this is what the NHS offers, is it any wonder agencies are so attractive to nursing staff? If employers are serious about solving the staffing crisis, they need to up their game.

Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

While a pay increase is certainly more desirable, as the cost of living still outstrips wage increases, I fall on the side of fairness. My focus, however, would not be on nurses who already work for the trust and are choosing to do bank shifts for the extra income, but on agencies that are still more expensive than both substantive and bank workers. Perhaps if bank working in addition to substantive employment was more attractive, fewer nurses would opt to work for agencies. As well as improving staffing levels and morale, this would drive down overall costs and improve patient care.

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London

Weren’t nursing banks supposed to reduce the agency bill? Basildon and Thurrock obviously didn’t get that memo. Trusts shouldn’t be relying solely on their own staff to do extra bank shifts and should be actively recruiting nurses to their banks, especially with the chronic shortage of nursing staff. A better idea would have been for the two trusts they are merging with to increase their bank rates in line with those already in place at Basildon and Thurrock. That would have shown they valued their nurses, and therefore patient care. If my trust behaved like this I would vote with my feet and go to an agency for extra shifts.

Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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