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Financial strain leading more nurses to RCN for help

More nurses have asked for counselling and financial aid following this year's real term pay cut, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has revealed. 

Speaking at the Annual General Meeting in London today (16 October 2013) RCN president Andrea Spryopoulos said that 15,000 nurses have asked the RCN for help in the last year alone. 

This marks a 9% increase in the numbers of nurses needing aid on last year. 

Spryopoulos said that nurses lives are getting “tougher and tougher” each day and many are having to live on a “shoestring budget”. 

According to the RCN president, the pay freeze - followed by the recently announced 1% pay increase - is in fact a real terms pay cut of 9% since 2010 and the cost of living has risen by 14% in the same amount of time. 

She said: “Nurses have been treated appallingly over the last few years. Patient numbers are soaring, budgets are still reducing, jobs are still being lost and you're being told that a 1% pay rise makes you lucky. You're not lucky, you're being taken for a ride - we all are. 

“We have needed to help members manage £4 million of debt in the last year alone. Nurses are being pushed further and further into the financial black hole with no sign that they will soon see the kind of pay rise that will meet inflation, let alone exceed it.” 

At the event, which sees RCN members from across the UK meet to scrutinise and question the trade body and membership organisation's work, Spryopoulos announced a new project called Nursing in Tough Times, which will highlight current struggles. 

Andrea Spryopoulos and deputy president Cecilia Anim, will be travelling the UK to talk to frontline nurses, highlighting issues with the media. 

The RCN president said: “We want to know the things that the media don't report on. The fact that our nurses are struggling to pay their bills, or are having to take out loans or borrow from loved ones, and are living each month on a shoestring budget.

“The truth is, we're all nursing in tough times.”