Money Wellness
illustrated nurses discussing their lack of money
category icondebts
calendar icon22 Mar 2024

Nurses in England going without energy and food because they can't afford it

 Six out of 10 nurses (60%) in the NHS have had no choice but to turn to credit or their savings over the last year to help them cope with the cost of living crisis, research from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) finds.

 The NHS is already short of almost 35,000 nurses, and this research adds to fears that many more may quit as they’re forced to limit their energy usage, take on extra shifts or go without meals.

 Professor Dame Anne Marie Rafferty, a former president of the RCN who is a professor of nursing policy at King’s College London, said: “Given that 90% of nurses are women, and women are key decision-makers in the household in terms of resource management, nurses face the double jeopardy of home and work pressures and the invidious choices of what to buy and what to save and ration in the weekly shop and energy bills.”

  The survey of 11,000 nurses also found:

  •  27% said they’re struggling with living costs, and they’re worried about their financial situation.
  • 77% of nurses said they’re worse off than a year ago.
  • 43% of nurse’s mental health has been affected by financial problems.
  • 68% have rationed gas and electricity.
  • 32% said money struggles had damaged their physical health.

Professor Pat Cullen, the RCN’s general secretary and chief executive, said: “Today nursing staff are rationing electricity and gas with financial pressures pushing a third into a state of mental distress. Pay has been devalued so much that they are effectively working five days or more for free each month. Ministers who once seemed glad to applaud NHS staff should reflect on this terrible state of affairs.”

Previous research from RCN shows that nurses have seen a 25% fall in their incomes since 2010, as well as their salary amounts falling in value because of below inflation pay rises and pay freezes.

Even though nurses in England got a pay rise of 5% last year, this was the lowest pay rise in the public sector.

Debt Help

One nurse in the north-west told the RCN: “We have been using credit cards to live and now the interest is crippling us. We can’t afford basic things. I have nothing left at the end of the month. I am having to work extra shifts just to eat. I work with people who are all in debt and coming to work just to turn their gas on.”

Being in debt can be scary, but you’re not alone, and we can help.

Our free debt advice is available to people all over the UK, online or over the phone. We’ll go through your finances in detail and explain your options. You might be surprised at the range of help available. We can:

  • check you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to
  • help you with budgeting
  • advise you on debt solutions

 There are various debt solutions available that reduce your monthly debt repayments and even write off some of your debt. We’ll let you know if any of them are suitable for you. All our advice is free. Some debt solutions are free, while others come with a fee. We’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision and, if we recommend a debt solution and you decide to go ahead, we’ll help get it set up.



Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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