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Are nurses really underpaid angels?

(Monday blog – slight change of subject from the usual)

Today I’m going to commit heresy (yet again). Today I’m going to suggest that nurses are actually rather well paid.

We’re all constantly being told by the mainstream media that nurses are horribly underpaid angels sacrificing themselves selflessly for our health.

At least, that’s what I believed and thought till I did a bit of research yesterday for a new book I’m writing. Then I got a bit of a shock.

Nursing is really quite well paid. In fact, maybe it’s very well paid?

I admit I don’t know the differences between the different levels in nursing. But here’s what I think I found out:

There are quite low salaries for ‘nurses’ in pay bands 1 to 4. But these are mainly healthcare assistants rather than qualified nurses with diplomas or degrees. Qualified nurses seem to start at ‘Band 5’.

(The list below comes from the Royal College of Nursing website – so they’re not figures that I’ve made up or misunderstood)

Staff nurses – this is the initial grade of a qualified nurse, and will be at a Band 5 salary which is £22,128 to £28,746

Senior staff nurses – these are more experienced nurses, and are likely to be at a Band 6 salary which is £26,565 to £35,577.

Deputy ward manager – starting at a Band 6/7 salary, this position brings with it more responsibility for the overall daily running of the ward, salary £27,565 to £41,787

Ward manager – this nurse has control of the budget of the ward, and is responsible for local management. This position usually starts at Band 7, salary £31,686 to £41,787

Senior ward manager – in larger wards there may be a need to have multiple managers, with one senior. This is usually paid between Bands 6-8c, salary £26,565 to £69,168

The top salary for a nurse seems to be something called ‘Band 9’, obviously quite a senior position, with a salary of £79,415 to £100,431. Let me repeat that – with a salary of £79,415 to £100,431. I thought salaries of over £100k were what surgeons got after 6 or 7 years of a tough slog through medical school. I didn’t realise that a top nurse – basically an administrator or penpusher – could also pocket a six-figure salary.

These salaries are, of course, before overtime and all kinds of special shift allowances.

I found this quite interesting and it disabused me of the idea that our nurses are terribly exploited by being forced to work in a cash-starved NHS for subsistence-level salaries.

We’re always being told by the mainstream media that the reason for the NHS’s financial difficulties is that old people are living for far too long. And the sooner the greedy baby-boomer generation, who have worked and paid taxes all their lives, die the better it will be for everybody. What’s never mentioned is whether uncontrolled immigration – millions of gimmegrants grabbing all the free stuff they can – might be overburdening our NHS.

Nor does anyone in the mainstream media ever dare suggest that it’s the extremely high salaries of nurses, doctors and NHS managers which are bankrupting the NHS and not Britain’s baby-boomer pensioners who are probably more active, more mentally alert and healthier than any previous generation of pensioners.

Perhaps some readers might also find the above salary figures as surprising as I did?

(readers can leave comments by clicking on the title of each blog)

14 comments to Are nurses really underpaid angels?

  • Nom

    If you ever have to visit the maternity wards at the Wittington in north London the nurses or aome of the are tyrants whilst at other hospitals they are indeed angels.

  • Gloria

    Having recently spent a couple of weeks in hospital I came out somewhat more enlightened about nurses and their pay…..true the hours are, obviously, unsocial at times but most were on at least £33k…….and I soon became aware that whilst there were some ‘angels’, most were just doing a job, however, I encountered a few real nasty examples that should never have been allowed to enter the profession. Nurses are riding a wave of sympathetic popularity based on poor pay rates of 20 – 30 years ago.

  • Nom

    Great comment Gloria. I noted sone at the Wittington eating food off the trolleys and not allowing the patients to have seconds, they were rude to visitors , lazy and unhelpful whilst some couldn’t do enough. How they remained in post could be down to the race card but my memories of the Wittington and I know others memories of it are tainted due to these bullies.

  • Paul

    There are at least two things that are never mentioned.

    1) Automatic increments. “Pay rises” mean changes in the same band, but the public sector keeps very quiet about it’s automatic increments, to get these you have to basically be not dead.

    2) Pensions. Largely unfunded, these are equivalent to a significant salary boost, at least 15% and more.

  • twi5ted

    Also add final salary pensions, lots of leave and other family friendly policies.

    But what the doctors earn would be interesting as well.

    And how this has all grown over the past 20 years since the spending taps were unleashed. I would expect the wage bill for the NHS to have far exceeded inflation during that time.

  • MARK

    Not to mention the pensions obligation that the poor tax payer is on the hook for.

  • Stillreading

    It’s inevitable that there are bad (incompetent or bullying) nurses, just as there are excellent, caring nurses and that because of the national pay scales, all will be equally remunerated. The problem started some years ago when nursing became a degree profession, meaning that aspiring nurses spend 3 years in a classroom before truly encountering a patient, with all that implies in terms of pus, body fluids, pain and unpleasant odours! Now, having degrees, unfortunately a significant number of nurses take the view that dealing with the less salubrious aspects of their profession is beneath their skill level. Consequently the Health Care Assistants step in – and excellent many of them are with nothing more than an NVQ or two to their names!
    Ever more erstwhile doctors’ tasks – certain diagnoses, minor surgery, drug prescribing – are now being taken over by nurses, a Gvt. instigated way of cost cutting and reducing the number of doctors needed. There are insufficient new doctors coming through the system and many head straight for an airport after qualifying in order to enjoy far better working conditions in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, where they don’t even need to master a different language.
    The pay some health professionalsreceive for the responsibilities they assume is almost derisory. It is not uncommon for a midwife for example, on around £30K, to deliver a baby single-handed in the mother’s home, because a second midwife is either just not available or cannot navigate the country’s grid-locked road system in time. Childbirth, even with a healthy mother and a straightforward pregnancy, can go wrong at any moment and then the midwife is in, literally, a second-by-second mother and baby life or death crisis. If anything goes wrong in such cases, you can bet your life the parents will want to sue. The NHS will suffer financially (or the relevant trust will) but the midwife will suffer professionally and personally. In the meantime, the desk-bound “Managers”, those who decree how many (or how few) clinical staff are required, continue to impose ever more arduous working conditions on the clinical staff. As for newly qualified doctors, despite the European regulation on maximum working hours – well, somehow the managers get around that as well and just remember, if you turn up in A & E having a heart attack, a stroke, or following an accident, the very first doctor you see may be coming to the end of a 24 hour stint with, if he/she was lucky, 2 or 3 hours of sleep, snatched in 15 minute episodes.

  • Mr J G Fields

    Mr Craig, I am glad that you have changed your subject
    matter, for the time being. The most important point for
    17.4 million people is; we are being blatantly betrayed
    with Brexit, by Mrs May,the government, most M P’s and the Lords. The referendum used the first past the post
    system just like voting for MP’s. The referendum was
    given to us by Mr Cameron’s government endorsed by MP’s
    on both sides of the House. It was completely legal.
    What went wrong? Simple. The people gave the wrong
    answer.It is a good thing to remind MP’s that in a
    democracy the people are paramount, not them nor the
    unelected Lords. The Lord’s have shown their contempt
    for the people’s democratic decision, so now is an ideal
    time for their abolition.

  • Fiat

    A Different Subject..one that will affect us all hugely in the next few years.

    “Combined, the largest 50 countries in the world owe nearly $65 trillion. That is a staggering 90% of their combined GDPs! Such a figure is unprecedented. The majority of the 50 largest economies in the world have sovereign debt over 50% of GDP and eight have debt over 100% of GDP including two of the three largest economies in the world: the US and Japan.

    Japan, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, the US, and Spain all have debts larger than their economies.”
    Debt per capita in the UK over £30000 each.

    Of course our Govt. doesn’t talk about the most pressing problem in a generation,it will bite with a vengeance the likes of which no one alive today has ever seen.
    Unpayable DEBT..

    http://thesoundingline.com/charting-the-looming-sovereign-debt-crisis/

  • Julia Green

    And what about agency rates, because our home grown little luvs coming out of University don’t want to do messy jobs?

  • Peter Hardwick

    I agree with Fiat,such levels of debt will eventually come back to bite us,they can not be wished away. How soon is the kickback likely to be? Who knows but be prepared.

  • Matthew Smith

    Just to clarify, working in operating theatres myself bands 2-4 are healthcare assistants of this in our department of well over 70 HCA.s, 2 are band 4 and the rest are band 2.

    For qualified nurses yes it starts at band 5 but you have got this very wrong when saying senior staff nurses start on band 6. There is no automatic promotion the mass majority of qualified staff will be and will always be on band 5. Band 6 is a junior sister. In our department of well over 100 qualified staff there are 6 band 6’s. Promotion is pretty much non existent having been qualified over 16 years now and without a masters I will unlikely ever get past band 5 yet someone who’s just qualified with a masters has the required qualifications for promotion, but that’s if a job becomes available as when people reach band 6 not many leave that position until they retire.

    Band 7 they don’t just start to take overall responsibility, they have total responsibility and total control over budgets etc from the day they start the job. We have a very large department in theatres and have two band 7 nurses.

    Band 8 is not ward based at all they are the ‘modern matron’ and take control of let’s say all the surgical wards or medical wards etc but they have no responsibility for budgets etc this is all down to the band 7. To be fair I’m not even sure what modern matrons do we have one but I’ve never met her she’s won awards for been valuable to the trust but the front line staff don’t see her.

    Band 8 and onwards can also be where some nurses side step into managerial roles I say some because in all the years I’ve worked at the trust I can think of one which worked his way up through the ranks and into chief of nursing as for banding I couldn’t comment.

    Where I agree what you say above they way it’s portrayed is wrong the majority of the staff 95% of us are band 2’s unqualified and band 5’s qualified.

    I’m quite lucky I’m pretty protected in theatres but my wife works as an emergency nurse she’s been stabbed and also had a hand gun pointed at her head by a drug addict wanting morphine and she gets all that for £28k plus a load of other shit from drunks etc. I’ve had a drugged up patient brake my nose the list carries on. 99% of staff nurses do this as a vocation wanting to help yes you get some that are complete cocks but you get this in all jobs. Id argue it’s not a highly paid job but it’s not entirely low paid job either I could certainly find a managerial job where I live outside the NHS for £60k plus with ease but it’s just not me I love emergency surgery. As for the pension that’s a long debate isn’t it. Let’s just say around every 8 years they change the goal posts and make you sign a contract reducing the amount you get. The pension I’m in now won’t cover my retirement so I’m having to run a second investment strategy to go along side to make ends meet when I retire however historically it was very good.

  • Paul Burke

    Matthew Smith, you ‘love emergency surgery’,are you then a surgeon or an anesthetist? I suspect not; since you imply that the figure of £60K you claim you can earn outside the NHS is above your current salary? Surely, every surgeon or anesthetist in the NHS earns more than that!

    So, I assume you have some other function in emergency theatre and that that you feel it equal in value to another job paying £60K?

    Truly, it must be a very important position since it commands a salary so far above the national average.

    So, you are it seems saying you are underpaid but nevertheless continue doing what you do out of love? Very noble of you.

    Care to enlighten me as to what you actually do, what you are paid and why you are worth more?

    I also note that you feel ‘protected’ in theater. Is this protection against the ravages of a the masses? How is that protection provided? is it just that theater is remote from, lets say, A&E, or that a security force stands guard on it?

    Seems you and I have very different reactions to threats to our wives. If my wife had a job where she was not only stabbed but had her life threatened at gunpoint my reaction would be: get her out of that situation pronto! If the loss of your wife’s salary would present a problem you could always forget ‘love of emergency theater’ and take the £60K job! However you seem only to feel put out that she is not being compensated for the risk of being shot! Tell you what, I’d expect a fair bit more professional and personal integrity from anyone looking to earn £60K a year.

    Like any publicly funded service the NHS has developed into a self serving empire. Costs run out of control, waste becomes the norm and staff use the emotive subject of healthcare as a lever to scare the misinformed public into backing its outrageous claims for yet more funding! We need a public inquiry into the running of the NHS and preferably not one run by the BBC, another publicly funded empire.

    By the way, I have worked for both the NHS and the BBC so my opinions are based on my observations of the inner workings of those organizations.

  • Tomsk

    Met some great nurses at Dryburn in Durham and Maidstone, Chelsea n Westminster, Ealing, Whipps Cross, St Thomas,s, and a few others but for some reason the Wittington in Archway North London employed some right ogres. Especially on their maternity wards. Angry, bitter, hostile women. Horrible place. If anyone is underpaid IMHO it’s our soldiers. The NHS needs to sort out its managers and procurement and also be just national not international. Funny thing is I was watching an old episode of Only When I Laugh. Not sure if it was the first ever episode back in the early 80s but even then they claimed the NHS was in crisis.

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