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When is the penny going to drop?

For Helen Lewis, NiP blogs come around with alarming speed. But when she was considering what to write about in this current climate, the subject leapt out at her, shouting, accompanied by a marching band …

As I write this, the papers are being perused on television by a guest on the Andrew Marr Sunday morning programme. It has come to light that the Royal Bank of Scotland is on the verge of giving £1 billion in bonuses to its staff. Well hurrah!! Now, forgive me for being a little pessimistic about these plans – but it was only a few months ago that this very bank was being pulled from the brink of collapse by a generous £20 billion government payout raised from taxpayers' money.

RBS immediately sacked seven of its board members – which should be applauded because, more often than not, it is the people at the coalface who are axed rather than those who languish higher up the food chain.

However, this massive, almost obscene sum of essentially taxpayers' money is an insult. With so many people on the brink of financial ruin, losing their homes and their jobs due to a catalogue of mismanagement by the banks in the past, how can they now "reward" their staff with these massive bonuses?

In an interview, Alistair Darling suggested that the banks are going to be held more accountable, and if they are rescued by the government they will have to sign an agreement not to pay out bonuses; however, he went on to say that there were some contractual agreements which could make this difficult to implement.    

Forgive the rampage; I have no problem with employees receiving bonuses for good work that achieves results; but when you consider that practice nurses and our secondary care cousins earn less than the amount some of these bank executives are getting in bonuses, you have to wonder if we have got the balance right.

Take as an example the flu campaign, which is an annual event, with banners and posters placed around every surgery in the UK, and every single person at risk being offered the flu jab. Huge amounts of money are made and practice nurses get a variety of "bonuses", from plant pots (minus the plant) to three months of wages.

Now, I ask you – are we offering a service to the public to keep our most vulnerable members of society healthy and free from the ravages of flu, to keep the costing down in the NHS as a whole and working as a group of educated, dedicated, professional individuals only to receive (in many instances) an almost afterthought in a so-called bonus?

Compare this, if you will, to a group of educated but seemingly ruthless individuals who care only for their massive bonuses while almost running the country into the ground because of what appears to be cataclysmic financial decisions – how can that be fair?

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I agree with all that Helen is saying regarding the banking situation, but am annoyed that she is under the impression that all practice nurses get bonuses. I get a basic wage and not even increments and am told by my GP that if I don't like it I can leave. Not easy these days to pick up another job. He's a single handed GP and I am his only nurse but I get no rewards for achieving any targets." - Bonnie Tait, Glasgow