THE ROYAL College of Nursing is taking the nurses pay claim campaign to the heart of government as its ballot opens on industrial action for a 12.5% pay rise today.
The Royal College of Nursing members are heading to to 10 Downing Street this morning to hand in a petition of over 160,000 signatures from nurses, their patients and the public, calling on the Prime Minister to deliver fair pay for nursing.
The petition delivery comes on the day the RCN launches an indicative ballot of members in England and Wales to ask them how willing they are to take strike action or action short of strike, such as working to rule.
RCN members have already expressed their anger at the latest pay award of 3%, with 92% of respondents to an earlier consultative ballot in England saying 3% is unacceptable.
With HM Treasury forecasts for inflation near 4%, nursing staff are worse off in real terms and now many are considering leaving the profession.
There are tens of thousands of vacant nursing posts in the NHS and independent health and social care sectors in the UK, putting the ability to deliver patient care at risk.
This comes as a poll by Ipsos MORI Global Health Monitor shows people’s main concern is lack of staffing, with 83% saying the healthcare system is overstretched.
Graham Revie, Chair of the RCN Trade Union Committee, said: ‘Today our members are sending a very clear message that nursing staff, as well as members of the public, say the pay given to nurses is no longer acceptable.
‘Those behind the doors of Downing Street cannot say they have not got the message. They can fix this now and deliver the pay nurses deserve. We have all heard fine words, but what we need now is action!’
Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, said: ‘At a time when many experienced nurses are burnt out, exhausted and considering leaving the career they love, the link between low pay, staff shortages and patient safety becomes even more stark.
‘If ministers are serious about building back health and care services, they can start to show it by delivering a proper pay rise for nursing staff.
‘Our members know it and the public know it. Now it is time for those in Westminster to do the same.’
Dave Wiltshire, the Secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance (ATUA), commented that ‘The only way that nurses will win the rise of 15% that they are demanding is to urge all trade unions to come out together.
‘Workers will answer such a call in their millions. A general strike will win 15% for nurses and all workers as well as ridding the country of the Johnson Tory government.’