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Almost a quarter of nurses need a second job to pay bills

Almost a quarter of nurses have to take on a second job in order to pay bills and everyday living expenses, according to a new survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

When asked what actions they took to meet daily bills and everyday living expenses, 23.2% of the 7,720 respondents claimed they had taken out an additional job. More than 50% said they had to work extra hours in their main job, with just fewer than 40% borrowing money from family, friends or the bank.

Of the 23.2% who said they did additional paid work, over half said this was in the form of bank nursing roles. Just under a third took on agency nursing work.

Over half of those with a second job claimed the income was indispensable to their lives, keeping them ‘financially afloat’.

To meet your daily bills and EVERYDAY living expenses (rather than other costs), have you done any of the following over the last year? (Please select all that apply.)

Worked extra hours in your main job


Borrowed money from friends/family/bank


Taken out an additional paid job


Taken out a payday loan


None of these



The survey, conducted every two years by the Institute of Employment Studies on behalf of the RCN, also revealed that money worries were making just under 25% of nurses think of leaving their job, with over 40% saying they had lost sleep because of financial issues. Only last month, the recently-scrapped pay cap and its effect on nurses was described as 'psychologically damaging' by RCN chief executive Janet Davies, with the findings coming only only weeks after it was revealed four in 10 nurses are living below the minimum income standard

Ms Davies said the responses demonstrate just how ‘severe’ the financial pressure on nurses is.

She said: ‘It is ludicrous that the NHS is losing valuable highly-trained staff simply because they can’t pay the bills at the end of the month.

‘What people don’t realise is that a large part of the efficiency savings the NHS has managed to make have only come from hard-pressed staff having their pay reduced every year in real terms. No wonder the Health Service is short of 40,000 nurses in England alone.

‘The Chancellor must give a clear signal in the Budget next week that the Government will award an above-inflation pay rise to hard-pressed nursing staff in the NHS’.

Other key findings of the 2017 RCN Employment Survey

  • Over 70% of nurses do not feel their pay band is appropriate, given their role and responsibilities
  • Over half of nurses have had to cut back on food and travel expenses due to money worries
  • 30% of nurses ‘almost always’ work through their break
  • 36.8% are seeking a new job, with more than a third of these nurses looking to leave the NHS altogether
  • Over 35% of nurses would not recommend nursing as a career option