FOUR out of five NHS staff say pay is the main reason they would quit their jobs.
An exclusive poll of NHS staff yesterday revealed that four out of five NHS health workers (80%) would quit the NHS over widespread concerns about their pay.
Of those considering leaving, 79% say an inflation-busting pay rise would persuade them to stay.
The results came as thousands of NHS workers planned to join the TUC’s cost of living rally in London today.
The rapidly rising cost of living and years of poor pay increases for NHS staff, which have not kept pace with inflation, mean more are struggling with day to day living costs.
The unions say the situation is worsening by the week with more staff turning to foodbanks to feed their families and falling into debt.
The majority of the more than 2,000 people who responded to the poll said the main reasons they are considering leaving the NHS was because their pay was not keeping up with inflation. The increasing cost of driving for work and hospital parking charges meant they have no other choice.
Alarmingly one in five staff (22%) are now either actively looking or already in the process of leaving the NHS for better-paid jobs which will further worsen staff shortages.
After pay, feeling undervalued by the government and their employer was most likely to make people consider leaving.
This was cited by nearly two-thirds of staff (64%) who said they felt utterly undervalued by the government or their employer.
The survey which was run by the #WithNHSStaff campaign, a campaign that represents 13 NHS health unions including the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Unison, Unite, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and the GMB.
Commenting, RCM’s Director for Employment Relations Alice Sorby said: ‘We have all warned the Government that the NHS staff recruitment and retention crisis cannot be solved without a game changing retention package and an inflation-busting pay rise. Without this the NHS will continue to lose staff at alarming rates.
‘Staff have had enough, and they are now a breaking point, it’s within the Government gift to turn this worsening situation around by paying all NHS staff what they are worth.’
Over 63% of staff surveyed said the stress and pressure of staffing shortages was impacting their health. With 70% saying they are unable to provide the level of quality care they would like.
The unions say that understaffing is now at unprecedented levels, and this is having a detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of its members, who are frustrated that they are stuck in a system which is preventing them deliver quality care to patients.
Unison Head of Health Sara Gorton said: ‘NHS staffing is in crisis and services are suffering. Without a significant pay rise, under-pressure health workers won’t stick around. That’ll make delays and cancellations a whole lot worse.
‘Ministers must find the cash to invest in an urgent retention package, starting with a pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis. That’s the way to ensure patients get the treatment they need.’
CSP Director of Employment Relations and Union Services, Claire Sullivan, added: ‘These shocking figures must act as a wakeup call. NHS staff are exhausted and overworked after the hardest two years of their working lives.
‘More than ever before, the NHS must be able to recruit new staff but also to retain its current workforce; a real terms pay rise is an essential component of making that a reality.’
Unions say the survey results suggest a decent package could help significantly with staff retention and are again calling on the government to listen.
An uplift would not only help staff to cope with rising costs of living, but also signal appreciation for the skills and dedication of all healthcare workers.
Melissa, a physiotherapist, said: ‘Despite working full time, I struggle to pay my bills and pay off debt. I can’t plan for the future – a family or home – because my ability to save is affected by inflation and the lack of pay rise.’
Sarah, a midwife, said: ‘We’re stretched beyond our limits. I see colleagues crying and overwhelmed regularly. I work 12-hour-plus shifts with no break or food, and I’m working so many unpaid extra hours that my actual wage is probably below minimum wage.’
Adele, a nurse, said: ‘I work with people just like myself, who cannot afford to pay their bills. It isn’t acceptable, we’re caring for patients but who is caring for the staff?
‘I don’t feel as though staff are valued or rewarded for their hard work. It is devastating that we’re breaking our backs caring for patients and it also feels as though we’re not allowed to speak about the issues.’
Karl, a radiologist, said: ‘There are many highly qualified people who work for the NHS despite the fact they could easily find employment in the private sector where they would be much better compensated.
‘I believe these people stay with the NHS because they believe in their work, and they are dedicated to providing excellent healthcare to everybody who requires care.
‘Our commitment and sacrifice should not be exploited by diminishing our pay through a combination of insufficient pay increases and increased taxes.’
Laura, a trainee nursing associate, said: ‘I love my job, because I meet inspirational people and I can make a difference each day. I do 13-hour shifts and I work 37.5 hours a week and I am a full-time student apprentice.
‘I come out with £1,200 a month after being scorned by the increase of tax and national insurance.
‘I cannot afford to pay my bills most months, so I have to decide what is more important, my energy bill, food shopping, or keeping up with mortgage payments. I have considered getting a job in retail as it would be less stress and I would be better off financially. Something has to change.’
- Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has responded to NHS England performance data.
RCN Director for England, Patricia Marquis, said: ‘The pressures on emergency services are unrelenting and well documented, lives are at risk as ambulances queue for hours and beds remain full.
‘The number of patients waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted from A&E is nearly 30 times higher than it was this time last year.
‘We are also seeing the number of people waiting to start routine treatment rising to yet another record high, despite a fall in two year waits.
‘Waits, delays and unrelenting pressure on staff are present in every corner of the NHS – they are the symptoms of a growing crisis – from A&E to social care.
‘Ministers need to invest in the nursing workforce, which includes giving a fair pay rise, to urgently ease the pressure and ensure patients can be treated.’
The latest NHS England performance data shows:
- May 2022 saw a 27-fold increase in people waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted to hospital from A&E compared with the year before.
May 2022 the number was 19,053, compared to 695 in May 2021.
- 6.48 million people were waiting to start routine treatment in May 2022.
The 13 NHS unions that are represented by the #WithNHSStaff campaign are The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Unison, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, UNITE, British Association of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association, British Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Podiatry, The Society of Radiographers, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Managers in Partnership and Prison Officers Association.
The poll of NHS staff was conducted during March-April 2022 – with 2,239 responses
#WithNHStaff said: ‘The skills and dedication of our NHS staff have never been more needed. But they’re burnt out, demoralised and undervalued.
‘Years of real-terms pay cuts have contributed to a staffing crisis. Right now, over 100,000 NHS posts are vacant.
‘Fair pay is vital to recruit and retain key staff and provide good patient care.
Join our campaign and tell politicians: it’s time to pay NHS staff properly for the critical and important work they do, and get our NHS fit to face the challenges ahead.’