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Mayday for Nurses

16 March 2007

Dr Noreena Hertz (UCL Economics and Philosophy 1987) is asking Premiership footballers to donate one day’s pay to support a national nurses hardship fund and publicise their financial plight.

Dr Hertz is aiming to secure a day’s pay from every footballer in the Premiership by 13 May 2007, the final day of the football season and the end of International Nursing Week.

Dr Noreena Hertz with Paul Robinson of Tottenham Hotspur

According to Dr Hertz, nurses are the lowest-paid public sector professionals, earning a third less mid-career than a secondary school teacher. A quarter of nurses in training do not finish their studies, mainly because of financial pressure, and once qualified, over 25 per cent are forced to take additional jobs to be able to continue nursing.

The campaign also highlights the depressing paradox that newly-qualified nurses have to compete for a limited number of jobs, while the government’s reduction in new recruits means that a nursing crisis is on the horizon – by 2011 we will be 14,000 nurses short.

At the time of writing, 13 out of over 500 footballers have agreed to donate a day’s wage, including Ryan Giggs (Manchester United), Thierry Henry (Arsenal), David James (Portsmouth) and Gary Neville (Manchester United). Other major football figures such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Martin O'Neill and Gianluca Vialli are also supporting the campaign.

The Mayday for Nurses manifesto has five key tenets:

  1. Nurses should not be paid less than all other professional key public sector workers. It is unjust that a nurse earns less than a tube driver, social worker, and policeman.
  2. No student nurse should have to quit his or her course because he or she cannot afford her rent.
  3. Newly qualified nurses should be guaranteed work upon graduation. It is criminal that because of NHS job freezes, thousands of nurses are facing the prospect of no job this year.
  4. The government must commit to addressing the projected shortage of nurses that is looming – now. We cannot afford to wait. All our lives are at risk if the nurse-to-patient ratio falls, because insufficient nurses mean slower recovery rates and a greater chance of death.
  5. Just because nursing is a vocation doesn’t mean nurses should be exploited. No one who chooses to spend their lives caring for others should find it impossible to live a decent life themselves as a consequence.

Over 13,000 non-footballers to date have shown their support for these principles by adding their name to the campaign site.

Dr Hertz was inspired to launch the campaign in recognition of the care and support her family received from nurses when her mother was ill during Dr Hertz’s teenage years.

To find out more about the campaign, contact Dr Hertz or follow the links at the top of this article.

Image: Dr Hertz with Paul Robinson of Tottenham Hotspur, who has agreed to give a day's pay to a hardship fund for nurses