THE finances of all our public sector organisations are stretched and in the global picture it is hard to argue too much with the decision to withdraw the Christmas payment for nurses at community hospitals. As we report today, the charitable funds committee of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has withdrawn the £35-a-head donation towards a Christmas celebration. The trust itself is facing making £52m of cuts over the next five years and the committee wants to see any expenditure, whether directly or indirectly, providing “patient benefit”. In the world of the public sector bean counter, there is no issue. Unfortunately, we are dealing with community hospital nurses, for whom compassion, humanity and providing the best care is an integral part of the job. And those nurses will quite rightly look at the loss of this bonus a few months after the trust had bumped up the then-chief executive’s pay structure by £5,000 and question if this is fair and just. Of course, professionally they should provide the best care they can, but they are human beings and this is a huge motivational own goal that health bosses should have been sensitive to. It is not the pay rise or the Christmas cut that is the disturbing issue for the public. It is the lack of awareness about how these issues connect.
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