ROYAL COLLEGE of Nursing (RCN) leader Pat Cullen has responded to NHS data showing nurse vacancies have jumped to a record level by urging ‘vote for strike action this year’.
She said: ‘Two weeks before we open our strike ballot, these stark figures reveal what is happening in England’s NHS – record numbers of unfilled nurse jobs and rising fast too.
‘Tens of thousands of experienced nurses left last year at the very moment we cannot afford to lose a single professional, and patients pay a heavy price.
‘Nursing staff are burnt out and simply not valued by their employers and government. Ministers choosing to hold their pay well below inflation in a cost of living crisis is making more reconsider their future.
‘Rather than leave a fantastic profession, I am telling members that the time has come to vote for strike action this year – it is the best way to now get politicians to listen and show what we mean when we say “enough is enough”.
‘The new prime minister must act fast to give nursing staff a fair pay award as part of addressing the all-engulfing NHS crisis.
‘If the new prime minister expects the NHS to pick between staff and heating bills this year, they will face a severe public backlash,’ added RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen.
Responding to the BMJ calculations that hospitals may be forced to pay out £2 million extra a month due to the fuel price surge, Cullen said: ‘This must be a top priority for an incoming prime minister in their very first days.
‘Health and care services need the funding for sufficient levels of fairly paid staff, without threats of other cuts.’
- The RCM has responded to reports of a speech by the Health Secretary Steve Barclay and said the speech is ‘at best foolish and at worst negligent’.
Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director Midwife at the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘To suggest that maternity services should be deprioritised by the NHS at a time when countless reports have referenced a lack of government investment and attention is at best foolish and at worst negligent.
‘Up and down the country, midwives, maternity support workers and other maternity staff are going above and beyond to try to deliver good, safe maternity care on a shoestring.
‘Hearing this will be an insult to them and their hard work, and to the women and families in their care.
‘We have too few midwives, too little money and too many premises that are not fit for purpose.
‘Even having been in the job a few short weeks, I’m surprised that the Health Secretary is unaware of the significant and severe challenges maternity care currently faces. This needs more government attention, not less, and it needs it now!
Meanwhile, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is expecting to pay an extra £2m a month for energy in early 2023.
The trust, which runs Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s University Hospital, told the British Medical Journal this was a 110% hike on its electricity and gas bill in early 2022.
Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust is expecting its total 2022-23 bill to be 130% higher.
The government said it had provided an extra £1.5bn to cope with rising costs.
The BMJ approached a number of NHS trusts in England for details of their recent and predicted future energy bills.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs seven hospitals across five sites, said it was doing all it could to reduce its energy consumption.
‘We have a range of plans in place to ensure we can continue to maintain our services and ensure we have robust supply procedures in place to manage any future changes in energy costs,’ a trust spokesperson said.