Poverty-stricken NHS workers must resort to payday loans and pawn shops to make ends meet

Shocking results show the cruel impact of years of wage freezes on some of the lowest paid NHS workers

NHS staff struggle to cope

Distressed health workers are taking payday loans, pledging their assets, and even using food banks just to make ends meet.

The shocking results show the cruel impact of years of wage freezes on some of the lowest paid workers in the NHS.

Britain’s largest public sector union, Unison, is warning that urgent government action is needed to prevent hard-working staff doing vital work from leaving health services.

Unison’s massive survey of 21,000 NHS workers found that nearly half (49%) said they had to ask friends and family for money in the past year alone because of financial difficulties.

More than one in ten (11%) had pledged property to alleviate their cash flow problems, and a similar number (10%) had turned to payday loan companies to help them cope.

NHS staff must use food banks


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Many had felt the financial pressure so intensely that they had to make drastic changes to their family circumstances.

A troubling one in six (15%) has moved to a cheaper home or freed up money by renewing their mortgage.

Just over one in eight (13%) sought help from a debt counseling service.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of participants said their financial situation was worse than a year earlier.

And the situation has been so bad for some workers that 1% of them have visited food banks in the past year.

The survey focused on nurses, midwives, administrative staff and hospital porters, housekeepers and catering staff.

Food bank use is increasingly common among NHS staff


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The survey also found that extreme financial hardship had prompted nearly one in five (18%) to take on additional work in addition to their health service job to supplement their income.

More than half (52%) said they really wanted to quit.

Christina McAnea, Head of Health for Unison, said: “These figures paint a shocking picture of the effects of the wage restriction on working NHS staff.

“They have to sell or pledge their assets, relocate or seek financial assistance from loved ones while performing essential and vital tasks in our health service.

“Unison members have a strong commitment to the NHS and to patients, but they must constantly compromise on standards to cope with pressures on the service.

‘The NHS is already experiencing significant staff shortages in key services, but our survey shows more than half of NHS workers are seriously considering leaving their jobs due to falling wages and increased workload work – this is a message the government cannot ignore.

NHS staff have been subjected to a pay freeze



“NHS staff are now 14% worse off than in 2010, NHS finances are tighter than ever, pressure and demand in the system continues to grow, inflation is expected to rise and something must give way.

“The government must act now, starting with a clear strategy to improve wages before the situation deteriorates further and we face an exodus of hardworking and caring staff. “

For the past six years, the government’s public sector compensation policy has meant that NHS salaries have not kept up with the cost of living, with £ 4.3bn of pay cuts in real terms.

Unison and other unions with members in the health service are asking the NHS Pay Review Body to increase wages to reflect the rising cost of living.

True image of poverty

A worker who took part in the survey said: “I am in a worse financial situation now than seven years ago, like most of my colleagues.

“I can’t even afford to send my kids to after-school clubs like Cubs and soccer. I have never felt so demoralized and worthless as now.

Many NHS staff are worse off now than they were almost a decade ago



A 20-year-old nurse who used a food bank said, “I just feel underrated. More nurses are leaving and joining agencies because they are paid more, and as a result, it costs more for the NHS to book supply staff through professionals or NHS agencies in because of the shortages. “

An administrative worker and a single mother in her twenties pledged property and said, “I have visited a food bank three or four times.

“If I miss a meal, it’s okay, but a child can’t miss a meal. My mom now pays my mortgage almost every month because I can’t afford it. “

* A midwife in her 30s said: “I have never seen such low morale. It’s horrible. everyone is fed up. I have seen people quit nursing to go for botox injections because they can earn a lot more and yet I get paid very little to save lives.

“I have £ 150 left to cover everything each month to raise two children as a single mother.”

NHS staff struggle to cope



A physiotherapy support worker in her 20s said, “We are a skilled, caring and skilled workforce who are underestimated and overworked.

“I have to do extra work at the nurse bank, but my rate is only 25 cents more than people in unskilled jobs – working behind a cash desk or cleaning – because of the living wage. is that possible? It is appalling. “

A community nurse, in her 30s, said, “I earn less at home now after taxes, student loan repayments, and pension than I did as a two-year graduate.

“I can only afford to have one child due to lack of money, childcare assistance and hours worked, while friends and relatives in the private sector or the unemployed can afford to choose. It is very unfair. “

* A senior executive in his 40s said: “The NHS is run by the goodwill of all staff, including American managers.

“There is no political will or support for the changes required because the political class – all parties – participate only for their own selfish and publicity purposes.

“Without political honesty and courage, change will not happen on the scale and at the pace required and the NHS will be a private, insurance-funded service in 5 years.”

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