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EDITIONS
Monday, 4 November, 2002, 01:24 GMT
Nurses' overtime 'going unpaid'
nurse
A newly-qualified nurse earns 16,005 a year
Nearly two out of every three nurses work more than their contracted hours, according to a survey.

And a quarter of that extra time is neither paid nor reimbursed with time off in lieu, it suggests.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is submitting the results to the independent Pay Review Body, which sets new salary levels.

The RCN is calling for a pay rise to increase recruitment and encourage nurses to return and remain with the National Health Service (NHS).


By showing nurses they are valued, nursing will once again become a career that nurses feel able to recommend

RCN general secretary Dr Beverly Malone

General secretary Dr Beverly Malone said: "Only by improving morale through improved pay can the problems of nurse recruitment and retention be tackled.

"This is essential for the government's modernisation agenda and improvements to patient care to succeed.

"By showing nurses they are valued, nursing will once again become a career that nurses feel able to recommend."

The 5,000 nurses questioned said a rise was the change that would make them feel most valued.

Extra hours

And 42% said it would work.

The annual survey indicates a rise in the proportion of nurses working more than their contracted hours - from 55% in 2001 to 63% in 2002.

The average number of extra hours has remained around seven every week.

But the proportion of nurses working additional jobs has risen from 26% to 29%.

Rewarding career

And three out of every four said this was for extra household income.

In 2001, 72% said nursing was a rewarding career, but in 2002 only 56% agreed.

And 12% said they intended to leave nursing within two years.

Pay gap

One out of every three said they would leave if they could.

There was also a significant rise in the proportion of NHS nurses saying they were inappropriately graded.

Trade unions are also calling for the gap between nurses' pay and that of teachers and police officers to be closed.

A newly-qualified nurse is paid 16,005 a year - some 10% less than teachers and 14% less than police officers.

Government response

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We already have nearly 40,000 more nurses working in the NHS than there were in 1997.

"This is partly because nurses' pay has dramatically increased by at least 26% in cash terms since 1997.

"Newly-qualified nurses' pay has increased by 35%. But it also because nurses can now work in a flexible and family-friendly way."

The government was working closely with trade unions representing NHS Staff to agree a modernised and fairer pay system, she said, adding that there continued to be good progress in the Agenda for Change talks and all parties were committed to finalising proposals for the new pay system as soon as possible.

See also:

31 Oct 02 | Health
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17 Dec 01 | Health
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