Responding to figures released by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) today showing a significant shortage of nurses in Wales, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for a greater increase in the pay rise currently being offered by the Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru administration.
The figures released by the RCN show that 1,719 nursing vacancies in the Welsh NHS, up from 1,612 recorded in 2020. It was also revealed that nurses give the health service an additional 34,284 hours in overtime every week which equates to 914 full-time nurses.
Staffing shortages of nurses can have a significant impact on care with the RCN stating that nurses working in areas of poor staffing are 71% more likely to experience high burnout and job dissatisfaction than nurses on more favorably-staffed wards.
Helen Whyley, director RCN Wales, said nursing vacancies in the NHS will only grow further unless the workforce is given better pay to match their mounting responsibilities. However, the Welsh Government has reiterated it cannot afford to give nurses more than the 3% offer currently on the table.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated:
“A 3 percent pay rise for NHS staff across Wales is a real kick in the teeth for our healthcare professionals who have been through so much throughout the pandemic.
“With inflation now over 4.2 percent it is disgraceful to even call the offer a ‘pay rise’. In October the Welsh Government said it cannot “magic money out of the air” for nurses, yet it has managed to find significant sums of money to fund various new projects in its deal with Plaid Cymru.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for a minimum pay rise of 6 per cent to value our NHS workers and ensure staff shortages are resolved, not made worst at a time of intense pressure on the Welsh NHS.
“We also want to see the legacy of Kirsty Williams built on by extending the law for safe staffing levels to community nursing and in-patient mental health wards.
“At the very least Labour and Plaid Cymru should commit to matching wage rises to inflation to keep our NHS safe. Anything less is not only massively disrespectful to staff, but also could lead to more vacancies, lower staffing levels and patients being placed at risk.”