Should Doctors Be Paid Less to Top-up Nurses’ Salaries?

Should Doctors Be Paid Less to Top-up Nurses’ Salaries? 

richard_mcmunn_There is a huge disparity between doctors’ and nurses’ salaries in the UK, yet both are medical professionals requiring specialised training. While many are concerned about this problem, it appears the situation is about to get worse before it gets better. According to The Daily Telegraph, the National Health Service, or NHS has seen its budget cut substantially under Cameron’s tenure which has resulted in nursing job losses. To make matters worse staff, including nurses, may be forced to accept a pay cut to keep their jobs, yet doctors are unaffected by this mandate.

The Telegraph goes on to say that a leaked document shows some NHS managers want to cut staff salaries by up to 5 per cent, and end overtime pay for those who work nights, weekends and holidays. In addition, the suggestion is being made that staff shifts should be made longer, all in the name of staying within budget. It is thought many nurses, already overworked and underpaid, will balk at taking a pay cut, and will leave their jobs. It is expected low cost foreigners would be used to fill the gap. However, doctors and surgeons are still not affected by this policy.


There have already been demonstrations regarding the pay debacle, and it is expected unions will fight tooth and nail to stop looming salary cuts, because they believe that driving pay down damages the entire health system. Two-thirds of the NHS’s budget is for staff and nurses and it is believed many job vacancies are simply left unfilled, meaning nurses are already performing more work while being under paid. This new policy if enacted only makes a bad situation worse.

Another and related problem facing the NHS is the number of temporary workers and nurses being used to fill shifts have risen by as much as 50 per cent. Private staffing agencies are being used to fill hospital shifts at seven times the cost of keeping regular nurses on the payroll. Certainly it makes sense to raise nurse salaries in an effort to attract the best medical professionals possible. Indeed, it would save enormous amounts of money over the current practice of using temporary workers.

As expected, the actual number of job losses varies depending on whether you take the NHS at their word, or the unions. Yet, the number of foreign nurses who have registered to become employed in the UK has risen by 70 per cent over the last two years. The Freedom of Information Act shows that since 2009 private staffing agencies have been paid an average £1,600 to staff nurses, while the cost per shift for nurses on the payroll receives an average of £212 per day.

While many people are concerned and outraged over the large salary discrepancy between doctors and nurses, it is likely the problem is only going to get worse before improvement comes. The Telegraph says that the NHS may be planning to cut nurse salaries. Nurses in the UK are already overworked and underpaid and should this plan be enacted, it would severely reduce the quality of healthcare in the UK.