Hospital Dr News

Nurses want a strike ballot as new figures reveal severe nursing shortages

Nurses have voted overwhelmingly to support a ballot for strike action in protest at low pay rises, as figures reveal growing staff shortages.

The Royal College of Nursing said four out of five members of the RCN who took part in the consultative vote backed a walkout, while nine out of 10 favoured industrial action short of a strike.

The large majorities reflect growing dissatisfaction within the nursing profession over wages.

Earlier today the College called on the rest of the UK to follow the example of Wales and enshrine safe staffing levels in law.

New figures show approximately 40,000 unfilled nurse posts in England, with 12,000 more health care support worker vacancies. Mental health and community care are experiencing the greatest shortages.

The union’s annual conference in Liverpool is discussing its next move. A further ballot would have to be held before any industrial action is taken.

The RCN has warned that low pay is partly responsible for tens of thousands of unfilled posts. Nurses say they have experienced a 14% pay cut in real terms since 2010 because of the government’s cap on public sector pay.

A formal public sector pay cap of 1% was introduced in 2015. The RCN’s general secretary, Janet Davies, has warned that years of pay cuts have left nurses struggling to make ends meet.

There have been reports of staff applying for payday loans and of resorting to food banks to supplement their diminishing incomes.

More than 50,000 of the RCN’S 270,000 members took part in the ballot.

Jon Skewes, the Royal College of Midwives’ director of policy, employment relations and communications, said: “NHS staff have now seen seven years of pay restraint and with at least another three years on the horizon. Continuing pay restraint is a disastrous, unsustainable policy for maternity services and the NHS. We are working with other NHS trade unions to break the government’s policy of pay restraint.

“The NHS is reliant on midwives’, maternity support workers’ and all other NHS staff’s goodwill and we want the government to recognise that. We want to use the opportunity of the general election to influence the government to address the staffing crisis in the NHS and work to retain existing NHS staff in the service.”

Care providers are increasingly hiring fewer registered nursing staff and the RCN is warning that this move leaves the Westminster Government open to the accusation of offering ‘nursing on the cheap’.

Separate research in all four UK countries, shows four in five NHS nursing directors are worried that their hospital relies on the goodwill of staff to keep services running.

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation