The Head of the Health Department has promised to resolve the low morale among nurses, after they were left feeling angry, dismayed and betrayed from “unfair” pay deals made to allied health professionals behind their backs.
In letter to all Health and Social Services staff last week, the Chief Executive Officer, Julie Garbutt, told staff that senior management of the Health Department and the Chief Minister’s Department are taking the concerns of the nurses “very seriously” after they were made to the States of Jersey’s Chief Executive, Charlie Parker, in a letter titled ‘The Devaluation of Nursing’.
As revealed by Express last week, there is currently a “terrible atmosphere” among health services as relationships have broken down between staff, many nurses are leaving the profession while others have started pulling back on their services – even risking disciplinary action – after the States made an “underhanded” pay increase to some health professionals.
“Nurses have been left completely shredded morale-wise and they have nothing left to give. This is the final straw. People have left as they’ve just had enough. An awful lot of us that bring in a huge amount of skill have been treated as idiots,” one nurse told Express.
They broke their silence on the reality of the situation as a last resort to get the bosses to listen to their concerns, but on the condition of their anonymity due to the “bullying and blame culture” they allege is now rife in the Health Department.
Nurses are upset and insulted that health professionals on civil servant grades, including some social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists (OTs), pharmacists and mental health workers were given a pay award of up to £5,000 the day before the Workforce Modernisation offer was made to Government employees in November, which was eventually rejected by nurses due to the loss of shift allowances and overtime pay meaning they would be taking home less in their pay packet each month.
Pictured: Nurses are upset and angry that some allied health professionals, including some social workers, got a pay rise which they allege was kept secret from them.
This came despite a States promise to resolve the pay gap between those employed on a civil servant grade and nurses in 2014 – more than a decade after the issue was first raised in 2007.
But nurses told Express, the worst part about the pay deal is that senior management allegedly told staff to keep it secret.
One nurse said: “The damage it’s done in terms of dynamics within teams is phenomenal because you have mixed teams. Social workers are now paid at least £10,000 to £11,000 more, even though they do the same job. Social workers are able to pass on a lot of what they do to nurses, but there’s no crossover the other way, as social workers don’t have the clinical skills.”
The nurses say they’ve lost all confidence with States of Jersey as an employer including Chief Executive Charlie Parker, as he talks of a clear, transparent and accountable workforce – traits they feel the management haven’t demonstrated themselves.
Pictured: The Health and Social Services Chief Executive, Julie Garbutt, has written to all health staff to say they are taking the concerns of the nurses “very seriously."
In a bid to rectify the situation, Ms Garbutt told staff they are now working on a plan which “will address how the job evaluation and pay comparability issues between Nurses and Midwives and Allied Health professionals including Social Workers and Probation staff may be resolved.
“Clearly this will involve a significant amount of detailed work, but all parties are fully committed to working very quickly to resolve the issues raised. I will, of course, update you all at regular intervals as we progress this extremely important piece of work.”
The States of Jersey have refused to comment on the feelings and concerns expressed by the nurses in a report published last week, including the move that nurses are starting to reduce their services - to the point where they are willing to risk disciplinary action – as all ‘goodwill’ among nurses has gone.
The Jersey Nurses Association is holding a meeting on 18 April to hold a vote of no confidence in Health Management.