Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has called for a “fair deal for nurses” after a listening event with local nurses arranged by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). In the meeting, some of Oxfordshire’s MPs heard about nurses’ experiences during the pandemic, and the severe stresses and strains they’re experiencing.
Layla said the 1% pay rise and staffing shortages were “completely unacceptable” and said nurses were being “overworked and undervalued”. She was told that a significant proportion of nurses were considering leaving the profession and that many weren’t aware of any counselling or support services they could access to deal with grief and other issues during the pandemic.
When Layla asked if there was enough support for them in Oxfordshire, one nurse told her that more staff were needed and that her colleagues kept being asked to be more resilient and are taking on a lot of stress. Listening to the response Layla added that “we urgently need a long Covid compensation scheme” for key workers, as another nurse told her that colleagues living with the condition “will take years” to recover. Another nurse added, “we should look after these people, it’s not good enough”.
Saying that nurses are “heroes in our society”, following the meeting Layla called for a “fair deal for nurses” including:
- A proper and substantial, above real terms, pay rise for NHS and social care workers, including nurses
- A long Covid compensation scheme for key workers living with the condition who are unable to work
- Greater financial support for nursing students, to improve recruitment numbers
- Ensuring enough nurses can be recruited from abroad to help fill vacancies
- A Covid Memorial Day to properly commemorate the sacrifices made by all those key workers, including nurses, during the pandemic
Layla said: “I’d like to sincerely thank the nurses from our community who took the time to meet with us, and the Royal College of Nursing for organising the listening event. Nurses are heroes in our society, and they have gone above and beyond during this pandemic to keep us safe and save lives. It’s completely unacceptable that they have been given a paltry 1% pay rise.
“Our nurses are overworked and undervalued, and that has to change. In the meeting, I heard time and again from nurses who felt under enormous amounts of pressure, without the support and care they desperately deserve. It was heart-breaking. We can’t treat our nurses like this.
“We clapped for the NHS, but the Government must put its money where its mouth is and put in place a fair deal for nurses, including a substantial, above real terms pay rise and a compensation scheme for key workers who can’t work due to long Covid. If we don’t act, we will have a nursing crisis on our hands in Oxfordshire and beyond in the near future.”
Jeremy Benton, RCN South East Council Member, said: “It’s so important that MPs listen to those working on the front line day in, day out, so we were really pleased that Layla Moran took the time to meet with nurses and hear their concerns. We are glad that she recognises how overworked, yet undervalued and underpaid nurses are and we look forward to working with her in the future.”