Headlines: November 4th, 2002

Six out of ten nurses are working in excess of their contracted hours and a quarter of that overtime is not being paid for according to evidence which the Royal College of Nursing is to submit to the profession’s independent¬† pay review body.The submission is based on a survey of nurses, published today. It reveals that nurses now believe increased pay is the single most important change that can be made to make them feel better valued.

As a result the RCN is calling for a fair pay rise to increase recruitment, improve retention and to facilitate the return of nurses who are no longer nursing in the NHS.

Key findings from the survey show 63 per cent of nurses now working in excess of their contracted hours, compared with 51 per cent in 2001. The average additional time remains steady at seven hours per week but a quarter of that is not being reimbursed financially or with time off in lieu.

There has also been a small increase in the number of nurses who have additional jobs – up from 26 per cent to 29 per cent. Where a family relies heavily on a nurse’s income the amount of time spent in additional employment is greater, averaging 13 hours a week compared to 8 hours overall.

One in ten nurses reported that they were acting up to a higher grade with two thirds of them not being paid for the extra responsibilities. Almost half of nurses believe they are inappropriately graded. The figure rises to 60 per cent among D grade staff.

The RCN General Secretary, Dr Beverley Malone believes improving morale through increased pay is the only way to tackle the problems of recruitment and retention. “This is essential for the government’s modernisation agenda and improvements to patient care to succeed. By showing nurses that they are valued, nursing will once again become a career that nurses feel able to recommend to others, ” she said.