Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor
One in five health workers has more than one job because they would not survive without a second source of income, new research has revealed.
A survey of over 3,300 NHS employees by Unison also showed that just over half were overdrawn every month.
The study, published ahead of a four-hour strike by health employees on Monday, found that extra jobs included lifeguard, tourist guide, hairdresser, driving instructor, gardener and dog groomer.
Some had started their own business, or did extra hospital shifts, complaining that they could not live on their NHS salary.
Nurses, midwives, ambulance drivers, hospital porters and other health workers will walk out from 7am on Monday in protest at the Government’s controversial decision not to accept a recommended 1% pay rise for all NHS staff.
Unison said its poll showed that almost two out of five health workers relied on credit cards, while 13% had resorted to payday loans.
Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said: “The Government is refusing to acknowledge that there is a real poverty problem affecting NHS workers.
“A demotivated, stressed workforce is bad for patients and bad for the NHS.
“In Britain today, we have NHS workers struggling to buy food, pay for their bills and who as a result fall into a cycle of debt and despair. Morale in the NHS is at an all time low.
“NHS workers work day in day out to provide vital care and support for millions of patients so they deserve fair pay. A full time hospital cleaner should not have to deliver pizzas after work to make ends meet.
“It’s time NHS workers get a fair deal for the invaluable work they do. The Government needs to step back from the brink and reconsider its pay policy urgently.”
Unison members and midwives will be taking action in England, while members of Unite and the GMB will be on strike in Northern Ireland as well.
Rehana Azam, national officer of the GMB said: “NHS staff take action with a heavy heart as their only priority is to deliver the best patient care, quality and outcomes. Even after staff voted to take strike action and action short of a strike the Secretary of State for Health has refused to meet with the unions representing NHS staffs.”
The GMB has agreed with ambulance services that life-threatening and certain other categories of call (such as renal dialysis and oncology patients) will be responded to by GMB ambulance crews during the strike, while major and hazardous incident teams will remain on duty in case a major incident occurs.
Unions said most NHS workers will not receive a pay rise because only those at the top of their pay band will get the 1%.
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “We are working through some of the toughest times in the history of the NHS. Throughout this long period of pay restraint and pressure on services, employers have always sought constructive discussions with unions and the Government to find a way out of this situation together. We hope progress is still possible.
“We are seeing the NHS finding it difficult to manage its finances this year and staff under pressure. A pay award for all staff, on top of increments, would have cost £450 million more – the equivalent of 14,000 newly qualified nurses.
“Hard-pressed staff would have been put under greater pressure or may have had to be reduced. Restraining pay was a tough decision for politicians to make and I believe they did it on the basis of improving the quality of care and maintaining continuity of services.
“Ahead of Monday, employers are pulling out all the stops to minimise disruption to patients and unions are co-operating with this planning ahead of the strike to ensure patients remain safe.
“I know that thousands of patients will already be anxious because important NHS services, such as ambulance cover, will be under additional pressure on the day and during the week of action short of a strike that will follow it. If appointments have to be rescheduled this would cause unnecessary distress and we urge staff to reconsider taking part in the strike.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We are disappointed that trade unions are taking industrial action.
“NHS staff are our greatest asset, and we’ve increased the NHS budget to pay for over 12,500 more clinical staff since 2010.
“We cannot afford a pay rise in addition to increments – which disproportionately reward the highest earners – without risking frontline jobs.”
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “At a time when MPs are set for a 10% pay hike, we’re told that midwives don’t deserve even a below-inflation 1% rise – and politicians wonder why the public does not afford them more respect.
“It feels to a great many people, including midwives, that there is one rule for them and another rule for everybody else.
“The independent panel of experts who advise the Government on NHS pay recommended a 1% pay rise for midwives, nurses, paramedics and other NHS staff.
“Unfortunately, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected that recommendation, and he and the employers decided that midwives and others won’t get a pay rise this year.
“I ask them to think of the pressure midwives have been under for years, made worse by a shortage of staff that never goes away.
“I ask them to think of the responsibility midwives have every single day, caring for both mother and baby.
“And I ask them to think how it feels to those same midwives when, despite all that, they are told they aren’t worth a 1% pay rise.
“Midwives are caring people who often work long hours of unpaid overtime just to keep our under-staffed, under-resourced maternity services running in the midst of a decade-long baby boom. They deserve this modest rise.”
Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor