I didn't become a nurse to be underappreciated and underpaid

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Tuesday 04 July 2017 17:29
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Public sector pay caps have put strain on those working in the NHS
Public sector pay caps have put strain on those working in the NHS

I am a 28-year-old, full-time employed, paediatric intensive care nurse. I have been qualified for three years and trained extensively within my role. I work a mixture of night shifts and day shifts within the same week, two weekends a month and either Christmas or New Year every year. I studied a combined undergraduate masters, for which I took out a loan of £7,000 from student finance. I am on a salary of approximately £23,500. I am actively seeking to leave nursing.

There is minimal progression for nurses in my field despite taking courses and becoming specialists in our area. Despite all my training and responsibility, I am the lowest-ranked within nursing as a band 5. I currently make about £5,000 a year less than the play specialist on our unit who works 7.30am-3.30pm.

Nurses have been repeatedly recognised as the main work force of the NHS and yet we are not rewarded for this in our salary. I have a second job with an agency which pays almost four times what I get for a shift with the NHS and get penalised by seniors on my unit for not picking up extra shifts with them when we are busy. I personally do not agree that nurses should get paid so much to work an agency shift (funded by the Government), where you have no loyalties or commitments to the department you are working in. But with the salary I'm on, it makes sense to explore other avenues. I spend my agency nights in the community watching a child sleep, in comparison to running myself in the group at the hospital. It doesn't make sense and it needs to change.

As a nurse, we spend the most time with patients out of any other profession within the NHS. It is down to us to check drug prescriptions, prepare and administer drugs, chase overworked doctors and care for patients and their families physically and emotionally. Nursing requires more academic knowledge and skill than ever before. The idea that nurses simply wipe bottoms and do bed baths is incredibly outdated. Nurses are a force of intelligent, caring people who have studied degrees and developed extensive knowledge within their field. People who are nurses have a choice in what career they pursue – nursing is not the only option. Unfortunately the current state of the NHS will see these nurses leaving the profession for a job that offers better working hours, appreciation and better pay.

It's important to emphasise that I did not go into nursing for the money, but I did not go into nursing to be unappreciated and underpaid either. Giving up valuable time with my family and friends for £23,500 and experiencing what I can only describe as chronic fatigue starts to to seem like too big of a sacrifice. I have been a part of a team where we many times resuscitated a child about to die and saved them; I have spotted crucial signs of deterioration and helped prevent further decline; I have sat with children talking about their fear of dying; I have watched children die and I have held their parents' hands through it. I have held a child's airway open and given them breaths when they were suddenly unable to breathe themselves. I have missed breaks, left late, sat with babies crying after my shift was over because their parents were not there. I have taught other nurses and students, and above all I work with incredible nurses who have done the same and have always been happy and felt fortunate to be a part of every single experience.

I love looking after children and families in their darkest hours and supporting them through it, yet the sacrifices that we as nurses make for minimal pay and appreciation is demoralising. It will pain me to leave the bedside, but ultimately I believe it will be better for my mental health.

Name and address supplied

The Hunting Act needs to be strengthened

It is very pleasing to see that the Tories' planned attempt to overturn the ban on hunting has been dropped (Theresa May scraps vote on fox hunting in latest U-turn, 4 July.)

Unfortunately, if anyone thinks this means all is well and that foxes, hares, deer and mink are safe from the hounds, they are completely wrong. Hunts continually and blatantly hunt live quarry knowing that the law provides exemptions and loopholes that they can ruthlessly exploit. These give them a selection of handy excuses every time they get caught, and prosecutions of organised hunts are very rare despite the anarchy which is taking place. The police are indifferent, and the Crown Prosecution Service is weak in enforcing the law.

The only way this appalling situation can be remedied is by a significant tightening of the Hunting Act. Anyone who monitors hunts, as I do, will know how ruthlessly hunters continue with their horrible cruelty, and how aggressively they turn on anyone who opposes them.

The monitoring and evidence collecting of no other law of the land is left to ordinary citizens as is the ban on hunting, and I hope and trust an incoming Labour government will finally put a stop to this atrocious state of affairs.

Penny Little

Great Haseley

There’s no magic money tree for pay rises

Why do all public sector workers think there is a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money to pay their demands for higher earnings?

T Sayer

Bristol

Tax the wealthy to fund public sector wages

There is money available: reduce the tax cushion for higher-rate taxpayers on pension contributions. National insurance exemption on higher rate tax contributions costs £13bn and on income tax costs £7bn – that is £20bn available to spend on better salaries in the public sector, let alone improvements to the NHS, education and infrastructure. This is not difficult to put into effect and could be done this year.

Rosanne Bostock

Oxford

Parliament must vote on the Brexit outcome

Each day that passes and the clumsy stupidity of Brexit becomes more apparent. The only way to avert disaster is to insist that the outcome of negotiations must be ratified by Parliament with at least 55 per cent in favour. The flawed referendum and its consequent negotiations must end with a process of ratification.

David Perry

South Cave

What's provoked this sudden turnaround in Boris Johnson and Michael Gove's morals?

As the mood of the country seems to be changing, and as our embattled Prime Minister Theresa May's position becomes plainly less tenable by the day, I note that Messrs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have both suddenly found themselves moved to vocally express opposition to the continued policy of public sector pay caps, which I cannot recall either of them speaking up against at any time in the past seven years. I wonder what might have provoked such an abrupt turnabout in their perspectives at this time?

Julian Self

Milton Keynes

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