Sunday, March 4, 2007

Footballers and nurses - Margin

Premiership footballers often make headlines for their off field antics. Add mention of nurses and the words ‘romp,’ ‘video,’ and ‘police inquiry’ seem destined for a Sun headline that has to be read.

As such it was an uplifting if slightly disappointing surprise to read that the millionaire playboys have come together with nurses and caused less scandal than an actress said to the bishop quip.

We have heard years of complaints about petulant and complacent players earning too much. They take home more for a single lazy performance than hardworking nurses/teachers/firemen/etc are paid in a year, or so the lament goes. And now it seems some one is taking action.

That some one is an attractive blonde called Noreena Hertz. But far from another candidate for lurid headlines, Ms Hertz is a well regarded and cerebral campaigner. And like many of the best ideas, hers is a simple one.

May 17th, 100 days from now, will see all signatories give up one day’s pay for a nurses hardship fund.

So far this socially aware campaign has earned a predictable endorsement from well known socialist agitator Gary ‘Che’ Neville. But he is just one of ten players from eight clubs that have already signed up, and they have been joined by a collection of club owners, managers, pundits and even spin doctor Alistair Campbell.

A single 365th of an annual wage is not a great deal of generosity for anyone. Indeed for a London nurse on £30,000 it would require payment of an affordable £82. However, £5million a year equates to around £14,000. So those figures could do a fair bit of good.

The campaign website also sets out a wider political message that it hopes perennial bogeyman ‘the Government’ will listen to. And to make Whitehall take notice it calls on fans to support the cause by signing a petition. No cash required.

In truth the campaign is a little weak. It uses some alarmist rhetoric about lives at risk, and some questionable figures about future nurse numbers. It also glosses over experienced nurses earning far better money than most non-graduates, and it ignores that hospital porters and cleaners face far worse financial hardship.

More surprisingly it also fails to raises some serious questions. Why, for example, does the female dominated and better qualified profession of nursing earn less than male dominated policing? Politicians are unlikely to respond to this effort with much vigor.

That is a shame. It is a shame because student nurses in particular do face real hardship. It is also a shame because many give up their training because they can’t pay their rent. And mostly it is a shame because I want more chances to hint at sexual misdeeds in my writing.


Ebren said...

That is one interesting list.

If I remember rightly doesn't Reo-Coker's mum have something to do with this (or is a nurse)?

Premiership Players:
Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Robinson, Jermaine Defoe, Kevin Nolan, Nigel Reo Coker, Alan Stubbs and David James, Ashley Young, Micah Richards

Additional Supporters:
(Those whose playing days are over, and other footie type people who have also commited their cash and got our thanks.)
Sir Alex Ferguson, Sam Allardyce, Glenn Roeder, Gianluca Vialli, Freddy Shephard, Graeme le Saux , Jamie Redknapp, Andy Gray, Clive Tyldesley, Adrian Chiles, Geoff Shreeves, Tim Lovejoy, Ramon Vega, Terry Byrne, Alastair Campbell, Mohammed Al Fayed, Mike Forde, and the agents Sky Andrews, Tony Finnigan and Rob Segal.

andrewm said...

This would have been perfect for the blog.

allwell said...

You're quite good at this aren't you Margin? An interesting and well-written piece.

Thanks for the full list, Ebren.

MotM said...

I felt slightly ill at ease when I read of this campaign for a number of reasons.

Nurses do deserve more - given that they are paid indirectly by the taxpayer, couldn't a political party stand on a "More tax for paying nurses, firefighters, police, teachers etc etc" manifesto pledge? Oh... I see.

What I find distasteful is that many NHS nurses (and doctors etc) are creamed off by the private sector which commpensates the NHS / Medical Schools who have trained them not a penny for that service (as far as I am aware). Of course, the NHS does the same when raiding the trained healthcare staff of the Developing World.

I'd feel better if those who feel strongly campaigned for proper funding of public services in the UK through the ballot box and sent the days earnings to Medicins sans Frontieres.

But I shan't damn good deeds because they are not perfect.

MotM said...

andrewm is right - perfect for the Blog

Margin said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm not sure about putting articles forward for 'the blog' yet. I want more practice on here first.


Labour did promise higher tax to pay more to nurses/teachers/etc at the 2001 election. They won the election, put up taxes, and put up pay by a lot.

The lib dems promised the same and did well in the 2001 elections too.


Labour have lost all good will because of Iraq - and people have even started to complain that big increases in spending on the NHS were 'wasted' (ie they increased wages rather than producing more operations and such like)

So if they want to win the next election - Labour will have to stop 'wasting' money on pay increases for teachers and nurses. Hence the recently announced low pay award.

which is a shame.

Margin said...

Thanks for the full list.
I think Defoe's mum was a nurse as well.

Ebren said...

Rather simplistic point there Marge and motm.

We don't need to raise taxes to pay nurses more. But we do need a conversation about what we want to commit our money to.

I don't want to bring up tube workers, but it's hard not to. If this was cif I'm sure someone would have mentioned Iraq too.

Additionally, more money to the NHS does not mean more money to nurses - I'm thinking to the Yes Minister hospital episode here - I think the efficiency, waiting list targets, and other malarky might be an emperor's new clothes situation.

Labour is very fond of justifying its position based on how much more money they are spending and the Tories and Lib Dems never challenge them on it.

Not that I'm having a go at nurses, who do a very hard job in trying circumstances and save lives every day, for less money than tube dirvers get for pressing two buttons (damn it, I tried not to mention them - I really did).

Margin said...


do you really fancy a political debate with me? Do you imagine I hadn't thought through my point?

Labour does stress how much it spends, but also follows up with rhetoric about what it spends that money on. (more hospitals, more nurses, more equipment, more operations, etc)

My point however, was that accusations of 'waste' are nice and indeterminate effctively mean nurses pay.

Sure the government could choose to spend more on nurse pay rather than buy and run new MRI scanners. But the new MRI scanners would mean more people getting diagnosed and thus surviving cancer. More pay for nurses would not mean any more service for patients.

As such, with the Tories back on track and tapping into public perceptions of waste, what is happening is that the public want nurses to have their pay cut to fund greater productivity.

no member of the public (or very few) actually sets out to campaign against better pay for nurses. But by demanding less 'waste' they are applying irresistable political pressure to cut pay.


tube drivers are not paid by the government. They are paid by London underground, and thus by london transport. Although it is a state run body that is to some extent subsidised, its pay deals are independent of the treasury. Just as the Government doesn't set pay at the BBC or Royal Mail, so tube drivers are a very poor comparison.

Margin said...

sorry - that should be 'state owned' not 'state run' body - in my 'ps'.

andrewm said...

Big fight - serves you right.

MotM said...

Margin - I'm sure you're right about 2001 election pledges (I'd forgotten), and I know those stats about the burden of taxation and Public / Private sector spending, PFI etc.

Not many come to the hustings and say:

(i) The NHS is demand-led and the demand for its services is rocketing due to demographics and its own success;

(ii) To meet the demand requires a historic shift in taxation through a significant increase in income tax - not stealth tax, death tax etc;

(iii) Vote me for higher tax and much more money spent keeping people you have never met alive for a year or two longer.

Agreed about the loss of faith in Labour and that Brown et al will have to shift towards Cameron if they want to win in 2010. Mid-term is always the best time to drive down public sector pay though - 2% above inflation rises in 2009 will win a lot of votes as the public sector has big battalions.

But this is probably CIF stuff.

Ebren said...

Margin - it wouldn't be the first political debate I've had with you.

Like Brown and Blair we agree on 95 per cent of our politics, then argue to death over the remaining five.

But don't think that will stop me.[for those that don't know - Margin and I are the same person, except he is ginger and grew up in essex, and I am a half-kiwi dyslexic. So we each had our own obstacles to overcome as children]

The NHS is a service. Most PMQs, whenever challenged, Blair reels off stats on spending, and how well they have achieved against their own, self-imposed, targets.

This is not the same as better service. Target meeting and investment stats do not equate to better service. Investing in staff might help service levels, but a manifesto commitment (and a 2001 manifesto commitment means nothing after the 2005 elections, we did not vote on the 2001 manifesto) to raise nurses' pay is trite and feel-good.

It is not the government's job to raise or lower nurses' pay, it is their job to give us a better service.

As I said, I think they are under-paid for what they provide.

And if footballers think nurses should have more money, good on them for showing some perspecitve.

No surprise to see this name on the list

Margin said...


This is indeed CIF stuff - although there is probably more agreement and less mention of Iraq than on any CIF thread.

I pretty much agree with what you that feel good stuff like high pay for nurses is an end of term policy. And it is one that will return.


we have debated politics in the past, and it has never ended well. Actually it has never ended at all. Just been paused for another time.

you also have to keep in mind that while they reel of the targets they have hit or are hitting, that partly reflects the nature of the NHS.

Given that the users don't pay and don't have a choice, it is hard to create any insentive for an A&E ward to improve itself. So governments ask patients what is important. They say things like getting seen to quickly, and the government sets a (four hour) target.

likewise people wanting a hip replaced don't pay more for good service and decline to pay for bad service. They just go to hopsital effectively for free.

as such governments ask what they want (usually to get an appointment quickly and get out of hospital quickly) so governments set progressively tougher targets to make things quicker (including the present 18week maximum wait from start to finish in 2008).

the important stuff is actually reforms to create a demand process through some system of choice.

That would eliminate a need for targets since patients would choose the hospital that suits them (eg the one that can do am x-ray this afternoon, instead of three weeks from friday).

But until that is in place governments have to have targets for the nhs. otherwise the argument is simply not to try to improve the nhs.

Margin said...


if you ask patients coming out of hospital for their feedback, the results are more overwhelmingly positive than for pretty much any company or service in the country.

thats because the nurses are kind, and the former patients are relieved.

does that mean the service was good if it required a four month wait?

MotM said...

This NHS stuff is more intractable than England's left side problem - Gee whizz!

MotM said...

Further to my last comment, would a left-footed Socrates solve both problems?

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

Nurses are cool.

Kiss a nurse today!

kokomo said...

i seriously cannot believe that i missed an nhs debate thing here!

Margin - you seem to know a fair bit about the nhs, do you wrk in it? If so, in what capacity?

The NHS has improved immensely under this government, as has nurses pay, and doctors, etc etc.

The targets and regulation have played a big part in that.

As has foundation trust movement - something most nursing unions are against, mostly because they don't understand it - but it has created strong, viable businesses, that can both look after their finances and innovate. My view from the inside of both fts and non-fts is that there were some scandalously bad management practices going on before ft, and this is the cause of most of the financial problems, not pay, not government targets, not managers (well, not managers per se, just some of 'em).

Anyway, i could go on all day about this stuff, but i won't because i suspect no-one is even listening...

Margin said...


I don't work in healthcare - but I do work in public affairs and report on healthcare quite a bit.

The government has to take some blame for the (massively exagerated) 'financial crisis' - in that it introduced changes to funding formulas and didn't phase the change in over a long enough time for Trusts to adjust.

But actually I agree that the NHS is is a better state now than any time for 20 years at least - despite various mistakes from the Govt.

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