Nurses to Stage ‘Summer of Protest’ Over Working Conditions

The Royal College of Nursing has indicated the intention of nurses to participate in what will be a summer of protest activity.

With historic industrial action looming, nurses throughout the NHS are concerned about the level of pay being offered by the government.

Members will be balloted on a potential strike unless the government scraps a 1% pay rise imposed by the Conservatives.

But with the Tories highly likely to win the forthcoming general election, such an eventuality seems rather unlikely.

The debate over pay can be considered particularly critical, as unions indicate that 40,000 nursing posts are unfilled in the NHS system in England.

Defending its policy, the government indicated that around half of the current workforce receive annual progression pay rises currently.

However, the Royal College of Nursing asserted that a majority of nurses are prepared to take strike action, with 91% indicating that they would support industrial action short of striking.

This was a substantial ballot, with 52,000 Royal College of Nursing members participating.

Michael Brown, chairman of the RCN Council, indicated that sentiment among the nurses is so strong that it is almost uniform.

“Our members have given us the very clear message that they can’t and won’t take any more. This is an unprecedented show of anger and frustration over the government’s pay policy. Politicians must now listen and tell us what they will do about nursing pay. It’s a message to all parties that the crisis in nursing recruitment must be put centre stage in this election.”

Nurses have never previously taken industrial action in the 100 year history of the Royal College of Nursing, so even balloting members on this notion is a significant step.

Considering the political climate and results of the process, it is now beginning to look likely that some form of industrial action will be taken.

With bursaries having been scrapped recently by the Conservative government, the total number of vacancies in the profession is escalating rapidly.

Indeed, evidence published by the Royal College of Nursing suggests that the total number of vacancies has doubled since 2013, with approximately 10% of positions now empty.

Experts suggests that the level of shortage in nursing staff is now becoming dangerous, with a spokesman on behalf of the Royal College pointing to the stress of working within the NHS system and caps on pay rises as being critical in this trend.

 

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