At least let us work more flexibly

2013 Nursing Standard nurse of the year Matthew Hodson says too many managers take their staff for granted

Money is a hot topic at the moment following the government’s announcement of the 1% pay award – or lack of it for nurses who are due an increment. It is, to put it mildly, disappointing.

The RCN suggests that about 60% of the nursing workforce will receive no ‘official’ pay increase. This is a blow to morale, especially at a time when the cost of living is mounting and many nurses are struggling to pay their bills. It’s plain to see why nurses are angry at this decision, especially when we are working harder and longer hours for less.

An option which I think could help is the wider use of ‘flexi-time’. A friend of mine who works flexible hours told me he was reaping the rewards of building up extra hours on a recent project by taking an extra day off at the weekend. I know many of my colleagues and nurse friends who work ‘extra’ nurse hours but there is where it ends. Few are given – or even claim – time back.

This is often because of fear about what their senior manager might say. But the NHS has for run on this compassionate ‘good-will’ and without a pay increase for the majority of nurses for too long. We must look at different ways to start to acknowledge and support our compassionate workforce.

I am a strong champion of the chief nursing officer for England’s 6Cs, as many people know. But can the nursing profession find a way to use the 6Cs to champion a fairer pay system? Only then can we ensure that the nurses of the future continue to remain positive and maintain their compassion. The whole system must be underpinned by appropriate terms and conditions, and that includes a fair wage for this most vital of jobs.

About the author

Matthew Hodson is a nurse consultant at the Homerton University Hospital, east London

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