Nurses in Wales to join 'summer of protest activity'

May 17, 2017, 00:19
Nurses in Wales to join 'summer of protest activity'

Ms Davies pointed out that RCN members had taken the "unprecedented" step of backing a summer of protests over the government cap on their pay, adding: "Many never thought it would come to this and are now looking for guarantees that this Government will listen and act on the voice of nurses who keep our NHS going in the most hard times".

Nurses have voted overwhelmingly to support a ballot for strike action in protest at below-inflation pay rises, the Royal College of Nursing has announced.

In the ballot, nine out of ten voiced support for action short of a strike, while nearly four out of five backed strikes.

About 52,000 of the 270,000 RCN members eligible to vote took part. Another ballot will need to be held before any action can take place.

The RCN has warned that low pay is partly responsible for tens of thousands of unfilled posts.

Nurses have suffered a 14% pay cut in real terms since 2010 because of a government cap on public sector pay, the Royal College said. "The 1% cap on nursing pay is putting patient care at risk".

The RCN has never gone on strike before, meaning balloting its members would be a "very significant step", argued Michael Brown, the organisation's chair.

"There is no certainty about the next generation of United Kingdom nurses joining either - deterred by low pay, pressure and new training costs - so the Government desperately needs to keep the experienced ones we have", she will say.

"This week we've showcased some of our Sefton nurses in different settings to give them the chance to tell their story and to tell others how they became involved in nursing and what it means to them".

Commenting on NHS nurses pay last month, a Conservative party spokesman said: "Investment in our NHS, in additional staff and indeed in their overall pay is founded on the strong economy only Theresa May and the Conservatives can provide". We're demanding answers on behalf of our patients as well as nursing staff.

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"We're disappointed at the lack of focus on the health and wellbeing needs of infants, children and young people", said RCPCH president Professor Neena Modi. We've heard from members that they want to send a much tougher message to government which is why we will be leading them in a summer of protest activity.

Janice Smyth said the pay issue needed to be addressed: "Nurses in Northern Ireland have had no decision this year, about even the 1%".

"It would be the first time RCN members came out and took industrial action in our 100 year history".

Yet as congress opened this morning, RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies read out an email she had received from Ms May's office confirming the prime minister would not attend the event.

'The current conditions in the NHS are driving people out of the profession and putting new people off entering it, ' she added.

"Our argument is not with patients - this is about ensuring that they get the safe and effective care they need".

"Continuing pay restraint is a disastrous, unsustainable policy for maternity services and the NHS".

Dr Mark Porter, British Medical Association council chairman, said: "Year after year of real-terms pay cuts have had a damaging impact on the morale of frontline NHS staff".

Their fury over pay comes after reports of nurses having to use food banks.

He said that the Tory attitude to the NHS "feeds into a narrative of this Conservative Government treating nurses like dirt and I will not have it".

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