Nurses feel ‘kicked in the teeth’ after finding out doctors are getting a pay rise but they are not

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A Welsh nurse has described their lack of a pay rise compared to doctors as a “kick in the teeth”.

Thousands of nurses across Wales won’t see their wages increase despite working on the frontline throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

On Tuesday, a pay rise for doctors and other key workers was announced – but not nurses.

Outraged by the news, one Welsh nurse decided to start a petition which has been signed by more than 37,000 people.

Matthew Tovey is a nurse at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, his hometown, and has experienced the pandemic firsthand.

Although cases may continue to drop across Wales, 30-year-old Matthew said frontline staff are still facing a daily battle.

He said: “Up on the wards, it’s so busy, we’re still wearing PPE and everyone is so down at the moment and with this it’s like the final straw really. It’s like a kick in the teeth to us.”

Pay rises of 2% to 3.1% this year for 900,000 UK workers including doctors, teachers and police officers.

But across the UK, more than a million NHS staff including nurses, porters and cleaners were not included in the pledge because they are already part of Agenda for Change – a three-year pay rise scheme which ends in April 2021.

Responding to Tuesday’s announcement, Matthew said: “I think it was just shock and then anger and then I just thought what can I do? What can I say?

“I thought well obviously other people are feeling the same from Facebook, so I thought I should do something.

“That’s why I created that petition but then obviously I didn’t realise how much traction it would get.”

Since creating the petition it as received tens of thousands of signatures and the target is now 50,000.

Matthew said: “I sent to all my friends first saying please sign it, and then I looked this morning and it’s got 20,000 signatures and now it’s getting past 35,000.

“It just goes to show how people are feeling and that everyone is feeling the same. They say it’s a pay rise but it’s not really as such.”

Matthew started off in the health profession when he was 17 years old, and started his nursing training five years ago.

He became a registered nurse this year after doing his part-time training while working at a GP surgery.

Even though some restrictions have been lifted and cases of coronavirus continue to fall in Wales, Matthew said the virus is still taking its toll on hospital staff.


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With the disease “always in the back of the mind”, Matthew said he needs an extra half an hour on top of his 12-and-a-half hour shifts to change to avoid contamination.

Still unable to see his grandmother, Matthew said some colleagues have had to move out to avoid potentially infecting their families.

He said: “Everyone is feeling so demoralised and people don’t want to even be in the profession anymore because of the way we’re being treated.

“They say we’re the backbone and we get clapped every Thursday night, and yet they treat us like that.

“It was an amazing morale boost and everyone was really touched when it first began, but then sort of the latter part of it we thought we need more than a clap. We need help. We need people behind us. Proper wages. Proper equipment.”

On the petition, it explains that once staff reach the top of their band they do not receive any further pay rises.

And compared with the cost of living increases since 2010, it adds staff are still earning less than they were 10 years ago in real terms.

The petition states: “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak clapped for carers, but don’t think we deserve a pay rise.”

When asked what message he would like to pass to the UK and Welsh Governments, Matthew said: “”Treat us fairly, treat us with the respect we deserve. It’s shocking, and we feel overlooked as a profession.

“And we just feel demoralised, and they are not helping the situation by doing this.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The Health Minister values the contribution of all our dedicated health and social care workforce in Wales and recognises the challenges they face, particularly during the pandemic.

“In 2018, a three-year pay agreement was implemented for all Agenda for Change NHS staff, including nurses, which includes a higher starting pay and faster progression through pay points.

“While we are not directly responsible for social care staff pay, they have provided exceptional care during the pandemic and in recognition of that contribution, we announced a special, one-off payment of £500 for all care home and domiciliary care workers.”

The British Medical Association said it would not comment on the petition.



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