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Trusts accused of exploitation

14th February 2007

Newly qualified nurses are being paid just £2.60 an hour in some areas of the NHS, say nursing leaders.

nurse cuts

The Royal College of Nursing said that Durham and Darlington, and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trusts had been paying graduates below the minimum wage.

The trusts said the honorary preceptorship contracts aimed to provide nurses with much-needed work experience not cheap nursing labour.

At Durham and Darlington, the four-month supernumerary programme had been specially designed to include mentoring and ward experience. Nurses receive a training allowance of £480 per month, or an estimated £2.60 an hour.

Of seven nurses who completed their contract, four are now working as nurses, and three temping on the nurse bank. They now plan to take on 15 more graduates.

The scheme at North Tees and Hartlepool has yet to attract any graduates.

The RCN said such contracts were immoral and blamed job shortages caused by NHS deficits and the resulting redundancies.

Reaction elsewhere has been mixed: Unison accused the trusts of exploitation, while the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) welcomed it.

The RCN estimates more than half of the 1,000 newly qualified nurses in the areas covered by the trusts will not find jobs.

Separately NHS Employers has launched a new action plan to help newly qualified nurses and experienced staff who have been made redundant to find work.





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