The number of healthcare professionals in debt and seeking help with their personal finances has increased by 9.8% over the last two years, according to the latest UK Personal Debt Index (PDI).
In May 2017, of employed people seeking help with their personal finances, 7.38% worked in the healthcare industry, and of these, 37% were nurses.
This is up from 7.22% in May 2016, and 6.72% in May 2015, accounting for an increase of 9.8% over the last two years.
The data has been taken from the latest UK Personal Debt Index (PDI) compiled by Creditfix, the UK’s largest personal insolvency practice, following a report of over 60,000 individuals.
‘This is not how hardworking professionals deserve to be treated’
Janet Davies, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: ‘The pay cap has left many nurses struggling to make ends meet, and sadly this data reflects the figures from the RCN’s own charitable foundation. The number of nurses applying for hardship grants almost trebled in the last 10 years.
‘We have heard worrying stories about members forced to rely on pay day loans and credit cards to cover everyday spending – this is not how hardworking professionals deserve to be treated.
‘Nearly a quarter of nurses who received a grant were on full-time pay. This should send a clear message to the Government that pay restraint must end. It’s making it harder and harder to fill the thousands of vacancies across the UK, and driving hardworking nurses away from the profession.’
Increasing cost of living
Pearse Flynn, the CEO of Creditfix, which carried out the new research, said: ‘It’s worrying to see so many people that dedicate their lives to public service are struggling to make ends meet.’
‘With the cost of living increasing, thousands of people working for the NHS have seen their real wage earnings decrease. We read a lot in the press about the extra pressures being put on healthcare professionals in their working lives, debt shouldn’t be such a huge issue for so many of these people in their personal lives.
‘The danger is although debt levels for many people currently remain affordable, should pressure on household expenditure increase with rising inflation, wages failing to rise quicker or interest rates increasing, the affordability of much of the consumer debt now being taken on could become a serious problem. This could prove especially damaging for NHS staff who seem to currently be struggling with debt and working in an already stressful environment.’
Combination of pressures
A spokesperson from the Cavell Nurses’ Trust, which supports UK nurses suffering harships, told Nursing In Practice: ‘It’s distressing to hear that the number of nursing professionals struggling with debt is increasing.
‘At the moment, there are some real challenges facing nursing professionals. We’re seeing a combination of financial, health and work-related pressures creating an intolerable mix of circumstances for nurses and this is reflected in the rise in enquiries for help. Cavell Nurses’ Trust received 1,900 calls for help last year, a 36% increase on 2015.
In 2016 the Cavell Trust carried out research which revealed the following:
- Nurses are twice as likely as the general population to be unable to afford basic necessities.
- Nurses are three times more likely to have experienced domestic abuse in the last year than the average person in the UK.
- Two-fifths of nurses have a physical or mental health condition expected to last longer than a year.
- Nurses are more anxious than average, scoring nearly 5 out of 10 as opposed to nearly 3 out of 10 for the general population.
‘While we can’t eliminate these pressures – all of which have the potential to impact on nursing professionals financially – Cavell Nurses’ Trust is here with money and support to help hard-working nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants when they’re suffering hardship in all its forms,’ the Cavell Trust said.