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Readers’ panel: Is improving nurses’ working conditions more important than increasing pay?

New figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council show that for the first time more nurses are leaving the register than joining it. An NMC survey of more than 2,000 leavers found that 44% were going because of working conditions and 16% because of poor pay and benefits. Nursing Standard readers have their say.
pay

For the first time, more nurses are leaving the register than joining it. A Nursing and Midwifery Council survey of more than 2,000 leavers found that 44% were going because of working conditions and 16% because of poor pay and benefits. Nursing Standard readers have their say

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in North London @drew_london

This isnt an either/or situation. Tackling the nursing crisis requires improvements to both. The NHS is losing skilled nurses at an alarming rate. They cannot be easily replaced, and the high number of empty nursing posts means patient care is already suffering. We need strong political leadership to pull us out of this mess, but we have none. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has

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For the first time, more nurses are leaving the register than joining it. A Nursing and Midwifery Council survey of more than 2,000 leavers found that 44% were going because of working conditions and 16% because of poor pay and benefits. Nursing Standard readers have their say

pay
Finding the right balance: some feel better pay could stem the exodus
of nurses, thus improving working conditions. Picture: iStock

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in North London 
@drew_london 

This isn’t an either/or situation. Tackling the nursing crisis requires improvements to both. The NHS is losing skilled nurses at an alarming rate. They cannot be easily replaced, and the high number of empty nursing posts means patient care is already suffering. We need strong political leadership to pull us out of this mess, but we have none. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly ignored previous warnings, so who in government is going to solve this problem?

Beverley Ramdeen is a senior nursing lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire 
@BeverleyRamdeen

Nurses leave the profession for numerous reasons, but poor working conditions and pay are high on the list. In an ideal world, nurses would have off-duties that allow them to have a better work-life balance, adequate breaks and nurse-to-patient-ratios, time off for mandatory training and clear career pathways. But addressing working conditions without addressing pay is short-sighted. Scrapping the pay cap would at least enable staff to afford the cost of living.

Lauren Ferrier is a nursing student in Aberdeen 

According to the NMC survey, 16% of nurses are leaving because of poor pay and benefits. If you could retain the 16% who want to leave the NHS because of low pay, staffing levels might improve enough to alleviate stress on nurses who leave due to poor working conditions. The issues surrounding staffing in the NHS are huge, and won’t be fixed overnight, but increasing pay is a more achievable goal, so it makes sense to start there.

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse in Nottingham 
@lizcharalambou

Both are equally important. Thoughtfully worked-out rotas – where holidays, recreation and family time are supported – enable nurses to have a good work-life balance, while income determines lifestyle. Nurses need to pay their bills, live in decent housing, and support their families, just like everyone else. Until a mutually agreeable pay deal can be reached between the government and unions, nurses should at least be able to take their breaks in comfortable rest areas so they can return refreshed to care for patients. 


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

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