`Put up and shut up' hospital staff fear effect on morale

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The Independent Online
The lone nurse scuttling through the empty corridors of Bart's once-busy casualty department did not know if she wanted to give her name. But she did know what she wanted to say about the 1 per cent pay rise awarded yesterday to her and her colle agues, writes Jojo Moyes.

"It's absolutely disgraceful. It's just an insult. The nurses have been talking about it on the wards all day."

Across the road in the Barley Mow, the off-duty nurses were just as vocal. "It's an insult to nurses. It shows how much this Government values us. They obviously think nurses aren't worth anything," said Ella van Raders, 33, a registered general nurse. "Why should we get half of the raise that the trust executives get? You can bet they don't use the NHS. It's just appalling. It's like they think `Oh don't worry about the nurses.'"

Part of the problem, she said, was that nurses were not vocal enough. They were perceived as a category of health workers who were prepared to "put up and shut up". The nature of their profession, she said, meant they could not go on strike.

"We've settled for everything they've thrown at us in the past, they just think: why won't we settle for it now?" Ms van Raders said.

Some of her colleagues were not even aware of the pay rise, having been too busy on the wards all day to tune in to the radio. Some broke into smiles at the news of a pay rise before they realised the amount - and then saw how it compared to other publicsector workers.

"It's one per cent of practically nothing anyway," said 32-year-old Julia Cambitzi, noting that the average rise was £2.17 per week. "It just devalues the nursing job." She believed it would affect the number of people entering the profession.