A CRITICAL care nurse has hit out at NHS pay rates claiming she is forced to work extra agency shifts to “afford necessities” while risking her life treating coronavirus patients.

The newly qualified nurse said she was regularly putting in more than 63 hours a week because she is supplementing her salary with agency shifts, which she says are double the hourly rate of NHS wages and added: “I know I am not alone in this. Many of my colleagues are forced to do the same.”

She said she is paid £12.65 an hour by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, a rate that is set nationally, while her shifts with the Nursing Guild pay £25-£35 an hour with added travel expenses.

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She claimed nursing jobs were being advertised at the London Nightingale emergency hospital were “£13,500 more than that average nurses salary in Scotland' and said there is “no incentive” to work extra NHS shifts.

Meanwhile she claims the demands of her job have left her skipping breaks and limiting her water intake to avoid toilet visits.

Average NHS nursing salaries in Scotland range from approximately £17,543 per year for a nursing assistant to £35,486 per year for a charge nurse.

A Scottish Government spokesman said it is "taking steps" to ensure NHS staff have access to enhanced overtime payments.

The nurse said: “During these unprecedented times, I am risking my life and that of my family’s day in day out for a wage that s barely acceptable to live on.

“I often find myself having to work extra agency shifts with the Nursing Guild to afford necessities.

“My average working week can total 63.5 hours. Frequently, I find myself skipping breaks and limiting my water intake so I can take fewer toilet trips. 

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“Ironically, I am not following a healthy lifestyle despite advocating this to my patients. Something needs to change. 

“Glasgow hospitals, already facing acute staffing shortages, will be expected to provide some extra doctors, nurses and other health care professionals for the Louisiana Jordan facility.

“I would like to call upon Jeane Freeman and ask her what incentives are there for a nurse to work extra shifts in a dangerous environment?

“Now more than ever we need respect and a wage we can live on."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are taking steps to support our staff at this time including by ensuring they have full access to enhanced overtime pay and that all staff working for NHS Scotland who are sick due to COVID-19, irrespective of their length of service, will receive sick leave on full pay until they have recovered from their illness for as long as they are contracted to NHS Scotland. 

“We continue to engage with employers and staff side organisations on a daily basis to identify how we can continue to support our staff throughout this challenging time.

A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said: “We can’t thank our staff enough for their tireless efforts as we respond to COVID-19."

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