NHS pay: Nurses quitting their jobs over 'spiralling' living costs

One nurse based in Liverpool said a mortgage broker “laughed in her face” when she said she wanted to buy a house. Credit: PA

Nurses are leaving their jobs because their pay does not coincide with "spiralling" living costs, according to a new report.

The government must award nurses a decent wage increase rather than the 1% it has recommended, The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believe.

London Economics analysis for the RCN shows house prices have increased six times faster than nursing salaries over the last decade.

The cost of the average UK home has increased by 55% in that period, up from £165,600 in 2011 to £256,400 today, while the pay of an experienced nurse in England has only risen by 9%, or £2,900, said the RCN.

The average cost of a house is now worth more than seven years of a nurse’s total average pay, it was suggested.

One nurse in Kent told the RCN she had left her NHS job because she would not be able to save enough for a deposit on a house.

Another nurse based in Liverpool said a mortgage broker “laughed in her face” when she said she wanted to buy a house.

Graham Revie, who chairs the RCN trade union committee, said: “The government needs to tip the scales in nursing’s favour to stop this injustice.

“This research shows nursing wages are left in the wake of spiralling living costs like house prices. The proposed 1% pay rise won’t come close to remedying the suppression of nursing salaries over the past 10 years.

“It is officially a pay cut now that inflation has risen above 1% as expected.”

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RCN acting general secretary Pat Cullen said: “The impact of nursing staff being priced out of the neighbourhoods where they work is devastating not just for them but their patients and patients’ families.

“Communities in which nursing staff can’t afford to live are communities at risk of poor health and patient care.”

Dr Gavan Conlon, one of the authors of the report, said: “It is hard to imagine a profession that contributes so much to the health and wellbeing of the nation being valued so poorly.

“With the proposed real-terms pay cut currently on offer, the prospect of nursing staff getting on the property ladder is now almost inconceivable.

“After the decade of being severely underpaid, the best way to start levelling up the economy after the pandemic is to start rewarding nursing staff properly.”

The NHS Pay Review Body is due to make a recommendation on pay soon. The RCN is calling for an immediate 12.5% pay rise for all UK nursing staff.