Let me offer you two jobs and tell me which you would take?

The first is in a fairly modern hospital as a staff nurse caring for people after their operation. The shifts are twelve and half hours long, three days a week, but you may have to do an extra day, which you may be paid. There is a restaurant, but we cannot guarantee you will get time to use it. The salary is £11.09 an hour. Away from work, there is beautiful countryside, ancient history to explore going back centuries, Manchester United is only two hours away if you can get a ticket and it rains often.

The second is in a state of the art hospital as a staff nurse caring for people after their operation. The shifts are twelve and half hours long, three days a week, but you may have to do an extra day for which you will be paid. There is a restaurant, with subsidised food for you to use on your meal breaks, which you will get. The salary is £17.90 an hour. Away from work there is beautiful countryside, ancient history to explore going back two centuries, Disney World is only two hours away you can get a ticket and it rarely rains.

Now tell me which job would you go for – be honest? Of course the second one. The only catch is it is in the United States of America.

Nurses are facing this dilemma on a regular basis. Offers of posts abroad are coming in thick and fast and this government continues to deem it acceptable to abuse the goodwill of the nursing profession. As a result more and more nurses will head off for the second job and sunshine. Not just America but other countries as well, Australia is offering similar jobs with flight paid for starting at £27,373 – almost six thousand more than a nurse gets starting in Lincoln.

The government has said that there is to be a 1% public sector pay ceiling, just after the MPs gave themselves 11%. For nurses that means four more years of in reality pay cuts. We have seen our pay differential drop by 12% since 2010. With inflation at 1.5% a 1% pay ceiling means a further 2% cut in the next four years.

At the RCN Congress in June it was pointed out that a newly qualified graduate working at Lidl could earn over £38,000. A newly qualified nurse with a degree can expect a stating salary of £21,692, barely £2 an hour above the governments much heralded living wage.

I struggle to understand how our Members of Parliament live with their consciences when they take 11% pay rise but are happy for nurses to be using food banks and relying on charity to live day to day.

The nursing profession has provided 24 hour, 7 day a week, 52 weeks of the year care since the inception of the NHS in 1948. Without nurses, the NHS would have died years ago. We are now at the point where unless the government starts to care for nurses, the shortfall of 200 nurses in ULHT will become 300. Many of the students qualifying in September are going to be tempted with the second offer above and similar ones. They are not tied to Lincolnshire and a nursing degree makes the world their oyster.

If you want a nurse to be there at the weekend or at night when your mum or dad is so confused they do not know what to do or when your child has had an accident and is bleeding from a limb I am asking you to start telling your MP it is time that nurses are rewarded for the work they do and not just taken for granted.
3% for the next four years is not a lot compared to what the Labour government gave the banks in 2007/2008. It would bring nurses almost back to the point they were at in 2010.

My challenge to all of you is to ask your MP why it is acceptable for them to have 11% and nurses to only have 1%. Please e-mail their replies to me at david.harding-price@rcn.org.uk. On behalf of all the nurses, thank you.