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Nurses and the cost of living: is work leaving you out of pocket?

Spiralling prices, poor pay, parking costs and the NMC registration fee – increasing financial pressures might make many nurses wonder if they can afford to work

Spiralling prices, poor pay, parking costs and the NMC registration fee – increasing financial pressures might make many nurses wonder if they can afford to work

The cost of living is rising in the UK and inflation has now reached its highest recorded level since 1992, affecting the affordability of goods and services for households.

The RCN claims to have identified several NHS organisation s that pay nurses who claim mileage at less than set rates. And many nurses say fuel, energy, food and costs associated with their jobs leave them feeling like they are ‘paying’ to do their jobs.

Nursing Standard readers have their say.

Spiralling prices, poor pay, parking costs and the NMC registration fee – increasing financial pressures might make many nurses wonder if they can afford to work

Picture: iStock

The cost of living is rising in the UK and inflation has now reached its highest recorded level since 1992, affecting the affordability of goods and services for households.

The RCN claims to have identified several NHS organisations that pay nurses who claim mileage at less than set rates. And many nurses say fuel, energy, food and costs associated with their jobs leave them feeling like they are ‘paying’ to do their jobs.

Nursing Standard readers have their say.


Liz Charalambous is a teaching associate at the University of Nottingham

@lizcharalambou

Nursing has never been a lucrative career, however, recent increases in national insurance and the cost of living have increased the pressure on nurses.

Many nurses are already working unpaid overtime to provide services to patients and are feeling the pinch in their outgoings.

The government needs to explore retention policies as a matter of urgency. Possible options include tax-efficient childcare costs, flexible hours for those with caring responsibilities, and support strategies – such as free parking or travel, food and comfort arrangements – as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic but that have now been discontinued.


Grant Byrne is a staff nurse at Glasgow Royal Infirmary

@GGByrne

I qualified last year so earning a full-time wage remains something of a novelty for me.

Despite that, I can’t help but baulk at how my pay doesn’t seem to stretch much further than jobs I once held in call centres.

As bills creep up for all of us, I worry about what the future might hold for nursing. While I’m sure nurses can always opt to make ends meet with a steady diet of overtime and unsocial hours, it seems a poor reward for years of study.

How long before nurses are merely living to work?


Drew Payne is a community nurse in London

@drew_london

Nurses shouldn’t be out-of-pocket for doing their jobs. Why aren’t NHS employers doing all they can to stop this?

Organisations should be providing nurses with free parking, meals, and laundering of uniforms, as well as realistic mileage payments, and paying the NMC’s ridiculously high registration fees.

They should also put pressure on politicians about nurses’ pay. The government isn’t interested in the nursing workforce crisis, but NHS leaders should put pressure on them given that 10.3% of NHS nursing posts are vacant.

If nurses fall into debt, more of them will leave the NHS to survive, which will affect patient care.


Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

The cost-of-living pressures affect all of us.

Working from home, if that is an option for you, may reduce your commuting costs, but then you have to factor in heating and electricity.

Other than a pay increase – which I doubt will offset the increased cost of living – one way I would try to recover these costs is to reduce some of the unpaid overtime I do.

It doesn’t solve the cost of living crisis, or workforce shortages. But maybe prioritising ourselves a bit more in these stressful times is the only thing we can do.


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

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