NURSES at Great Western Hospital have been left demoralised after a Government decision not to award them a cost of living pay increase.
After the report of an independent pay review body was ignored, some nursing staff say they are thinking about quitting and taking on agency work.
The starting salary for the NHS on pay band one ranges from £14,294 to £15,013, and a one per cent increase has been awarded to less than half of those at the top of their pay range.
The remaining staff are set to remain on their existing salaries, only receiving an increase if they are able to move up pay bands.
Anne Wood, 55, staff nurse at GWH for the past 16 years, said some colleagues had reached tipping point after a three-year pay freeze.
“It is quite a large percentage of staff not getting this pay rise,” she said. “This is a real kick in the teeth for nurses.
“They have sent out a clear signal that for all their warm words about how nursing staff are vital, we are just not valued to them.
“We just feel worthless. No matter how hard we try, we are being slapped down all the time. Lots of nurses think it is very unfair, and are really angry.”
Anne said the fact senior management had a 15 per cent pay bump in 2009 had not helped the situation.
“You can’t pay some people and not others,” she said.
“Nurses are really demoralised at the moment. A lot of them have mentioned they are thinking of taking agency work because they can’t make ends meet.
“There is more money there and we would not have the constant worry over our heads.
“It’s getting to the stage where it is very difficult to carry on. I will have to take on extra shifts just to cover the cost of living.
“If people leave it is going to pile even more pressure onto the NHS staff nurses who stay.
“They are finding it difficult to recruit now, so we can’t afford to lose people.
“Years ago this was a great career, but after this decision people will wonder if they really want to go into nursing.
“I have been a nurse for 16 years – and you need to feel valued in your job – but a lot of people are struggling to pay the bills.”
Jeannett Martin, south west regional director for the Royal College of Nurses, said: “The Government has made it clear that they do not value nurses and health care assistants.
“Less than half of nursing staff at the top of their pay increment will get a paltry one per cent rise following three years of pay restraint.
“Last year Chancellor George Osborne stated that a one per cent pay rise was affordable for all healthcare staff, but the Government have now reneged on that deal.
“They have broken their promise despite the independent pay review body’s decision that a small one per cent cost of living rise should be paid.”