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Thursday, March 15, 2007

A failure of devolution

We are all of course looking forward to having additional powers for the Welsh Assembly after May's elections but in the meantime it would be useful if we exercised the ones that we have especially when they re-inforce current policies.

The recruitment and retention of nurses in the Welsh NHS has always been a challenge but improvements in pay and conditions have helped. However, the decision of the Welsh Assembly Government to follow England's lead and stagger a derisory and below inflation 2.5% pay rise for nurses throughout the year will hit morale badly. This is especially so when the Labour-Liberal Democrat Partnership Government in Scotland is doing it differently.

As Welsh Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Jenny Randerson says: 'While I am sure that nurses in Wales will be pleased for their Scottish colleagues I can't help wondering why Wales can't manage the same.

'For every £100 earned by nurses in Scotland from April 1, their colleagues in Wales will receive £99.02, for the same work.

'Nurses are being asked to do more and more in the NHS and it is difficult to retain and recruit nurses. Delaying their pay rise is a cheap way for Gordon Brown to save a few pennies, but will do nothing to boost morale in the sector.'

Specialist lung nurse Helen Caddick, is quite clear about the impact that the Assembly Government's decision will have on her and her colleagues:

The 27-year-old, an RCN member who is based at the Newport Chest Clinic, at St Woolos Hospital, said, 'The pay offer has really reduced our morale, making us feel quite under-valued and very disrespected, as if we are insignificant employees within the public sector because equivalent public sector workers have higher start wages and less responsibilities.'

Ms Caddick, who earns less than £24,000 a year after seven years in the profession said she felt 'angry' at the Assembly Government's decision not to follow Scotland's lead.

'There is meant to be a new national pay scale, equality of access to healthcare and pay for the nursing staff,' she said. 'But such disparity makes you feel used and undervalued and treated without respect.

'The fact that one health minister can appear to support us and another show such little it makes you wonder whether we are that insignificant in the general scheme of things.'

She added, 'In my heart of hearts I could never leave nursing - the remuneration is nothing but the emotional reward you get from patients makes you feel valued.

'But if this continues that way it is and my circumstances change, I will have to look for something more highly paid and that means management, but I'm a hands-on nurse.'

Yet another own-goal by Wales Labour and one that will impact on many key workers. They really need to think again on this.
Much as I agree with your sentiments, the question must be asked as to which part of current spending you would cut to pay for a higher pay rise ?
Dont get too hung up on cost. It could be accommodated across existing budgets.
'Dont get too hung up on cost'

There speaks the Public Sector...if it could be accommodated across existing budgets then reduce those budgets anyway.

I'm reading up on Public Choice Theory at the moment. Quite illuminating...
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