Nurses turning to food banks and seeking debt advice due to NHS cuts

Nurses are increasingly turning to food banks and pay day lenders after years of public sector pay freezes, a union has warned.

Undervalued nurses are forced to seek advice about debts, bankruptcy and homelessness, according to new figures from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).11745635_10204603452022427_4507785575538908987_n

More than 1,200 nurses called the union’s member support helpline between January and July, needing advice on welfare, ill-health, disability and other issues.

This included 231 asking for help with debts and bankruptcy.

The figures come as Janet Davies, the union’s new general secretary and chief executive, told the Guardian of anecdotal evidence that nurses are increasingly turning to food banks and payday lenders.

She said years of public sector pay restraint was leaving nurses feeling undervalued and could push some to leave the profession.

The union’s counseling service has also seen a rise in the number of nurses needing help with stress.

Problems filling rotas is also leading to an even greater reliance on expensive agency staff.

Ms Davies said: “These huge agency bills, nurses going to food banks – this is not a great place to be.”

She said more nurses were choosing agency or bank nursing because they could earn more money.

And she said a further pressure on pay was the increasing prevalence of “downbanding”, where a senior nursing post is re-evaluated and downgraded.

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