NHS employees face a choice between renting and childcare because their pay does not match the growth cost of living along with a huge daycare fee, The Independent it was said.
Hospitals are trying to provide support to those who are struggling parentsincluding offering more flexible hours and ‘anytime’ schemes to retain staff who would otherwise be forced to resign or reduce their shifts.
Charlotte Collings, a member of the Royal College of Nursing’s Eastern Regional Council, warned that international workers, who make up almost 50 per cent of NHS nurses, were hit harder by not being entitled to 30 hours of free childcare. currently offered by Govt.
She told The Independent her trust was lost by staff who moved to areas with cheaper housing so they could afford childcare costs.
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Saffron Cordery, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “One trust leader told us – and I think it’s really convincing – that the payments don’t reflect the reality of their staff’s lives. This is very important to remember.”
She said NHS trusts were looking at ways to help staff, such as “thinking differently about working patterns so people can get cheaper childcare”.
The news comes as the charity Pregnant Then Screwed organized a series of marches – reportedly attended by more than 15,000 people – to protest the cost of childcare in the UK.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is set to shut down a strike vote this week over the government’s decision to make a below-inflation pay offer as the latest figures revealed 40,000 nurses left the NHS in the past year.
And analysis published last week by the London School of Economics, commissioned by the RCN, warned that nurses have taken a 20 per cent pay cut over the past decade. The government also faced mass protests by thousands of ambulance workers, while junior doctors threatened to strike over pay.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UK has the second most expensive childcare in the world, with the cost of almost two-thirds of a family’s mortgage or rent.
Earlier this year, the Royal College of Midwives backed a petition calling on the Government to allow those studying to become midwives, paramedics and nurses to claim 30 hours of free childcare available to working parents.
Recent figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council show that around 48 per cent of registered nurses and midwives were trained outside the UK, while the government has repeatedly said international recruitment is a key part of its plans to boost nursing numbers in the NHS.
Talking to The IndependentMs Collings, who is also a senior nurse in the South East, said international nurses brought to the UK on the Skilled Foreign Worker Permit were not entitled to a 20 per cent pay cut or 30 hours of free childcare who offer government schemes.
She said: “I’m losing nurses in Coventry because they can rent a house for half the price. With the money they pay in rent, they can afford proper childcare – it’s an absolute vicious cycle.’
Ms Collings, who has a daughter and is pregnant, said she had to reduce her working hours until her daughter was three because she could not work tight hours on shorter days and had to leave her specialist role as an intensive care nurse because an appropriate shift could not be arranged.
She added: “If it wasn’t for the goodwill of the family who take on 50 per cent of my children’s care, I don’t know how we would have coped, and that’s from someone who is a Group 5 nurse and [lives in] a two-income family.”
Kate Jarman, director of corporate affairs at Milton Keynes Hospital, said The Independent: “We are piloting an ‘any hours’ scheme where staff can choose part of a shift – essentially the hours they can work, possibly to fit around other commitments including childcare, which we know is at a considerable cost. Staff can do this on the basis of a main contract or they can do it through our temporary staff bank.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to work – we need to retain skilled and experienced staff, and we know that flexibility and helping people balance home and work life can make a difference to whether they stay in or leave the NHS. »
Ms Cardery added: “What we do know is that trusts are also doing their best to see their staff through this to make sure they are creating the most productive and positive working environment possible. But with severe staff shortages and more than 132,000 vacancies across trusts, doing so is harder than ever for overstretched services.
“The government this year rewarded all NHS staff with below-inflation pay, leaving them worse off in real terms. Many have reached a tipping point. Just this week, another trust opened food banks in its hospitals to help staff make ends meet.
“At the end of the day, what the NHS needs [in order] to ensure that the staff we can afford to lose do not leave the NHS – this will affect the quality of patient care – this is a long-term, fully assessed and funded national workforce plan from the Government.”
Ahead of nurses’ strike next week, Rishi Sunak confronted a patient about nurses’ pay during a visit to a hospital in Croydon. Catherine Poole, a 77-year-old patient recovering from surgery, warned prime minister when he visited her ward.
‘We need to try harder’: Hospital patient over NHS charge told Rishi Sunak
Mr Sunak dodged a question about nurses’ pay when he was prodded by broadcasters after the exchange. When asked if he was happy that nurses are not getting a real pay rise, he did not answer the question.
Instead, he said: “We face a lot of challenges as a country, but I’m confident we can fix the economy and deliver on the promise of the 2019 manifesto, including a stronger NHS.”
A government spokesman said: “We really value the contribution of NHS staff, which is why we are increasing the pay of over one million NHS workers by at least £1,400 this year. NHS staff also received a 3 per cent pay rise last year, boosting nurses’ pay by an average of £1,000, despite a public sector pay freeze.
“We’ve also provided at least an extra £1,200 in cost-of-living support to 8 million of the most vulnerable families, and we’ve reversed the rise in National Insurance contributions and made changes to Universal Credit to help working households keep more of what they earn.”