Nurses are increasingly relying on payday loans and borrowing from friends and family due to their falling take-home pay, it has emerged.
A Nursing Standard survey of more than 1,200 nurses and healthcare assistants found that 6% said they had taken out a payday loan, while over a third (34%) said they had asked friends and family for a loan.
More than half have taken on extra shifts to boost their income while one in ten has a second job outside of nursing.
Public sector pay rises have been capped at 1%, which after inflation equates to a real-terms cut. One nurse told the magazine: "Christmas must be cheaper this year. There is no money for life's little treats and I can only see it getting worse."
The findings come as David Cameron outlined to business leaders on Monday night his vision of permanent austerity which would leave the British state "leaner", in a speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet.
Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: “The findings of this survey are deeply concerning. Overwhelming pressures at work and continuing squeezes to their pay are severely undermining the morale of nursing staff.
Nursing Standard editor Graham Scott said: “It is no wonder that almost half the respondents say they have considered quitting.”
New research by the Unite Union found that healthcare workers' disposable income has dropped by £233 in a month.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Economic recovery may be being enjoyed within the the super-wealthy circles in which the Prime Minister moves, but it is passing ordinary people by.
"Back in the real world there is a cost of living crisis strangling the finances of households across the nation. While the rich get richer and ordinary people face soaring costs, dropping income and with winter ahead, our most vulnerable will face the hideous dilemma of whether to heat or eat.
"David Cameron has pledged that austerity is here to stay. He is laying siege to the living standards of the people who will be keeping the NHS going this winter and if you are a woman you face double the squeeze. His government is irresponsibly oblivious to the struggles of ordinary people - governing for the few and not the many."