The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has opened a poll to members as to whether strike action would be appropriate.
The poll, titled ‘Nursing pay: what should we do next?’ asks nurses’ opinions on the one percent cap on NHS pay, and what should happen next.
The poll asks for yes or no responses to: “Do you think the government’s approach to nursing pay is fair?”, “Would you take industrial action short of strike to show your opposition to the governments approach to nursing pay?”, and “Would you take strike action in opposition to the governments approach to nursing pay?”.
While the poll is only open to RCN registered members, a separate formal ballot would be required by law ahead of any industrial action.
The government has capped NHS pay in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland since 2010. This represents a 14 percent pay cut in real terms.
The cap on nursing pay is “putting patients at risk”, states the RCN.
“More nursing staff than ever before are living the profession, piling the pressure on an already overstretched workforce”.
“Those who stay are taking second jobs and using food banks. They are exhausted, morale is low and its affecting the care they are able to provide”.
The RCN also states its opposition to recent cuts, calling for the government to:
- Scrap the one percent public sector pay cap for NHS staff.
- Award NHS staff with an above-inflation pay increase
- Return to UK-wide pay rate in the NHS.
“As a nurse, the last thing I want is to strike and leave my patients, but I don’t think the public understand that the government are eroding the NHS, cut service by cut service, exhausted nurse by exhausted nurse,” said an anonymous London nurse. “We have to do something to make the government and the public understand our and the NHS’s worth. You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone. And believe me it’s going – right now”.