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International Nurses Day: Nurses Report

This International Nurses Day, thousands of nurses using Organise have shared what they think of their profession – and what they'd like to say to the Health Secretary, Steve Barclay.

Chloe Green
May 11, 2023

For International Nurses Day, nurses on Organise have reflected on their jobs and the nursing profession – and the results are stark.

43% of nurses say that saving lives and helping people get better is the best thing about their job, while 30% say it's sharing special moments with patients and their families. Their other favourite things about the profession include:

  • "Being one of the essential sectors of society. If citizens do not have their health, it impacts upon society to be able to function."
  • "Being caring, compassionate, kind, treating people the way I would like to be treated."
  • "The challenges, the highs and lows and being part of a person's recovery journey."
  • "Seeing my patients be discharged (rehabilitation unit mental health) even after years with us."

On whether nurses believe their profession is respected by the public, there's mixed opinions – 44% say yes, 30% say no, and 26% aren't sure.

But nurses are (almost) unanimous on whether they believe their profession is respected by the government: 98% say no.

Nurses are demanding action from our government 📣

Here are just a few messages to Steve Barclay, Health Secretary, from nurses in the UK:

"If you respect the profession of nursing then please show us through our salary."

5% is not enough to make staff want to stay in the profession and retaining students. Professionals in other jobs are respected and valued and paid appropriately for their skills. Why are Nurses not valued and respected for the skilled work we do?

"You need to give nurses a pay rise to stop them leaving and joining agencies. We are losing good nurses & agencies are costing millions, why can't you see this or can you and you just want it to be privatised and we will lose the NHS? It's shocking what this government are doing, we have nurses who can't afford to live, everything is going up except our wages."

"We deserve to be paid a decent living wage that is in line with inflation."

"Steve, stop being a numpty and come to the table and offer something reasonable. Nurses had a pay freeze for several years unlike other public sector jobs, it is way past time we caught up a little. Without a solid wage, we will not be able to recruit and retain student nurses. We do not want to strike, but we have been left with no remaining options."

"I am a newly qualified nurse with a family. I am thousands of pounds in debt. I worked hard for 3 years during covid training to be a nurse whilst home schooling my children and for what. To go to work everyday and get stressed at the system. No bed spaces on wards no physical beds to put patients in. Short staffed everyday. Also, why did I bother to go to University to get a degree to be a nurse when I could earn more working in a supermarket. I want to be paid properly to reflect all my training. I also want you to look at how to make things safe for us to practice safe for our patients to be cared for. Pay us what we are worth for what we do and give the NHS what they need in order to give patient centred care!!!"

"Come and walk a day in my shoes - or more importantly a day in the shoes of someone relatively junior on the front line and then you can give opinions of nurses worth and value."

"There is a lack of understanding about the level of training and expertise for nurses, comparing us to carers in Social Care [as has often been done] is unhelpful and misplaced. This is not to denigrate Carers, but to recognize the difference. There is a general muddling of roles and experience which the public struggle to understand, which means for example that a Health Care Assistant is thought to be a nurse. Most NHS Nurses work way beyond their paid hours every week [I have worked an extra week every month for years 'to get the job done', and I know this to be fairly standard in Health Visiting and Community Nursing]. But good will is running thin, and it is simply unattractive to pay to study for a degree and then pay back from what are modest salaries. There are constant efforts to make less well qualified personnel take on 'tasks' in nursing. This is misplaced, as suitably qualified nurses can tackle very many things to a higher standard and more appropriately, in a fraction of the time it takes someone less qualified. So, recognition, respect, being valued, having enough of us suitably qualified to do the job, with better remuneration in order to attract bright and ambitious people to join the profession. Retention of staff is a huge problem due to burnout. This goes back to adequate staffing levels, respect, being valued, remuneration etc..."

Nurses constantly put others before themselves. They become exhausted and overwhelmed. We need healthier Nurse/ patient ratio. We need to be able to offer the care we are able to give. 2 Nurses on an adult elderly ward is awful for staff and patients.

"Nurses give everything to their job every shift, sometimes to the detriment of their mental and physical health. Many nurses lost their lives looking after others. I personally retired after covid I had a family tragedy before covid then so many deaths I just couldn’t cope anymore, luckily I hit 60 at the right time and was in the old pension scheme so could afford to finish. My poor colleagues are burnt out some poorly but cannot retire until 67. I really believed I could make a difference and hopefully I did in the twenty years I gave to the NHS. I do believe the government need to look at the type of job you are in and fit it to pension age. I also feel that we were let down badly by the government after covid I cried when they suggested 1% I was an experienced nurse that had not had a cost of living pay rise for 11 years yes the higher ranks get paid lots the CSWs were only on minimum wage it’s top heavy so get rid of all these managers and give the money to the nurses on the wards."

"I have been nursing for 40 years I am now retired and have come back to help my old team. I have never ever felt so unappreciated trodden on and ignored as I have at this moment in time. I am doing the work of 2 staff nurses with no thanks and my feelings of inadequacy are rising, I will never advise someone to train as a nurse. We get no respect from government. I did not become a nurse for the money but my colleagues are struggling both mentally and physically with the government's lack of empathy. If it was your mum / dad in hospital you would want the best care from a full happy staff compliment, not a nurse who is stressed burnt out and still having to perform her duty with inadequate staffing and not enough money."

"Please be kind to nurses, don't keep them in debt, they've family, children, parents, please help us."

We deserve a good pay rise for the work we do. Clapping for us doesn't put food on the table.

"Nursing degrees should not be this expensive, I believe we should invest in good quality home grown nurses and that includes making the nursing degree more accessible once again. There should be reduced working hours for nurses to return to work after maternity leave and are still breastfeeding - it is very hard to do this when working 12.5 hour shifts - Nursing salaries should be higher, it is a very demanding job and that should be rewarded"

"Nurses are not a commodity… They are not a luxury… They are the essential backbone for the Health Service! Allow the NHS to stand up straight and be Health Service the people of this country want. Look after your doctors and nurses… pay them properly!"

Nurses are the backbone of any care system. Given the right funding and culture nurses can create exceptional patient experiences and enhance patient outcomes.

"We need more nurses as we are working in unsafe conditions due to low staffing levels. It is the nurses who are answerable when a patient dies due to lack of staffing."

"We have come here because we are not being appreciated by our own country. We are grateful for all the opportunities that we have here in the UK but it is not enough. Since we came here our eyes are being opened as to how valuable we are to be part of the NHS and in general as healthcare workforce. We work long hours tirelessly and we do our very best each and every day for the lives of many people and the NHS. Now I am thinking of leaving because I feel as though we are not valued and not worthy enough to be able to be earning the right amount of wages. I know we nurses are worth so much more than this and I know some other countries appreciate us better to give the right pay. All the more we nurses/healthcare workers are realizing our value and what we truly deserve!"

"Respect the nursing profession and resolve this dispute. It is crucial that we invest in this profession for the benefit of all citizens of the UK."

"Without adequate pay, we will never have enough nurses, recruit new nurses, ensure patient safety. Patients are suffering through neglectful management of the NHS, and gross underfunding for the last 13 years."

"Pay staff what they are actually worth and we will rush to work, happily doing the job we love so much. Stop setting us up for privatisation. You only have to look at the USA, South Africa, to mention but a few, to see that privatisation only works for the wealthiest of the wealthy in society, across the long term. The USA has now realised that it does not benefit society as a whole, to have a totally private health care service and are now returning to state funded healthcare. Please don't be the person who finally breaks our NHS, be the person who turns it back around!"

"I beg you to think of the people who need free health care to survive. Without the NHS being available to all we will see huge amounts of illness being untreated and suffering as people will not be able to afford to assess healthcare. Please try to keep this close to your heart and this pay health professionals a wage which reflects the responsibility and service they do, so we are able to recruit the next generation of nurses. As it stands nurses are leaving in their thousands for easier and higher paid jobs. Help to change this."

Please pay nurses a wage that fits in with the work they do. The current economic crisis is affecting everyone including nurses. We cannot afford to feed our families and yet we go out to care for others. This needs to change

"The National Health Service was the pride of this country, it has the publics' support and support of its staff. Stop privatisation and fund the NHS properly #SafeStaffingSavesLives #FairPayForNurses"

Want to have your say? Help us get nurses' voices trending by tweeting Steve Barclay! Let's make sure the Health Secretary hears nurses' voices - just click here to send Steve Barclay a message now.


Chloe Green

Chloe is a campaigner and strategist at Organise.