When the Government dealt nursing staff another real-terms pay cut earlier this month, the Royal College of Nursing decided to ask all 270,000 of its members working in the NHS, including 16,000 in the East Midlands, how they want to respond.
There is no offer on the table for us to accept or reject — the Government imposed its below inflation pay award of one per cent. So, as elected members of the RCN’s governing council, we voted to launch this poll of our own members. It will give nursing staff across the region a say in what action the RCN takes. Nursing staff are disappointed and demoralised by six years of unfair attacks on their pay. Over the same period, pressure in hospital and community nursing has reached unprecedented levels and staff are working harder than ever. In the online poll, they have a chance to vote for action short of a strike - such as not working unpaid overtime - or even to strike. We find ourselves in an unexpected General Election but there is no better time to hold politicians to account for the impact of their decisions. The one per cent pay cap for nursing staff is contributing to a workforce supply crisis in the NHS that is as damaging for patient care as it is for nurses themselves. We will use the collective voice of UK nursing to remind all parties of that before polling day. Nurses are not taking this lightly. The wellbeing of patients is the top priority for every nurse and health care assistant. But too many are struggling to make ends meet and they should not have to subsidise the NHS from their own pay packet.
Gill Cort & Dave Miller
RCN Council members,