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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Nurses struggling to pay bills as 6% have taken out a payday loan, survey claims

Written by Ella Pickover

More than one in 20 nurses have been forced to take out a payday loan to cover their everyday expenses, a new poll suggests.

The Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) workforce survey found that 6% of nurses have been forced to take out one of the high interest rate loans in the last year to meet their daily bills and day-to-day living expenses.

Meanwhile, one in four has borrowed money from friends, family or their bank, 23% have taken on an additional paid job and half did overtime to cover their bills and expenses, according to the poll of 7,720 nurses from across the UK.

Two in five of the nurses questioned said they have lost sleep over money worries.

Over the last year, 56% said they have been forced to cut back on food and travel costs, one in five struggled to pay gas and electricity bills, 11% had been late on rent or mortgage payments and 2.3% said they had used charities or food banks.

The RCN also found that 37% are currently seeking a new job, an increase from 24% 10 years ago.

Of these, more than half said they are looking for roles outside of the NHS, with 14% saying they were seeking jobs abroad.

The College said it was "ludicrous" that the NHS is losing staff because they cannot pay their bills on current wages.

Compared with five years ago, seven in 10 feel worse off financially, according to the poll of nurses - eight in 10 of whom are employed by the NHS.

The College released the poll ahead of next week's Budget as it implored Chancellor Philip Hammond to address the issue of public sector pay.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said: "The shocking findings we're highlighting today demonstrate just how severe the financial pressure on nursing staff has now become.

"It is ludicrous that the health service is losing valuable highly-trained staff simply because they can't pay the bills at the end of the month.

"What people don't realise is that a large part of the efficiency savings the NHS has managed to make have only come from hard-pressed staff having their pay reduced every year in real terms. No wonder the health service is short of 40,000 nurses in England alone.

"The Chancellor must therefore give a clear signal in the Budget next week that the Government will award an above-inflation pay rise to hard-pressed nursing staff in the NHS."

Sara Gorton, head of health at the union Unison said: "NHS employees as a whole are struggling to survive on just their basic pay.

"Cleaners, porters, paramedics, midwives, administrators and healthcare assistants have all gone without a proper pay rise for far too long."

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) also called on the Chancellor to allocate more funds to health and social care.

In a letter to Philip Hammond, the college wrote that the financial challenges facing the NHS and social care are "unprecedented".

The letter added: "Without sufficient investment in the NHS, social care and public health interventions, patients are at risk of avoidable harm, and the future sustainability of the NHS is under threat."

A Government spokeswoman said: "Public sector workers, including NHS staff, do a fantastic job and the Government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class public services. We have already confirmed that the across-the-board 1% public sector pay policy will no longer apply to pay awards for 2018-19.

"Public sector pay packages will continue to recognise workers' vital contributions, while also being affordable and fair to taxpayers as a whole."

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