It’s not often that nursing staff feel the need to get ‘political’. We get on with doing the job we were trained to do. Many of us cannot imagine doing anything else.
But we now find ourselves in a situation which is neither sustainable nor tolerable. Since 2010, pay freezes and the 1 per cent cap on public sector pay increases have left NHS nursing staff at least £3,000 worse off as salaries fall by 14 per cent in real terms. The pay cap not only leaves nurses struggling financially, it devalues nurses and nursing.
People are not joining the profession and many are leaving. Patients cannot get the care they need because there are not enough nurses. There are now some 40,000 unfilled nursing jobs across England.
A Royal College of Nursing survey of members last month showed that nine in 10 would support industrial action if the pay cap is not scrapped. Many nurses are now getting involved in a “summer of protest” across England to give the Government a final chance to remove the cap before a formal legal ballot on action later in the year.
Over the coming weeks, readers may see us out campaigning, starting today when RCN members will be leafleting in Victoria Gardens, central Leeds from 11am and then at 12.30pm outside the Department of Health, Quarry House.
Please do come and speak to us and find out more about our campaign. We hope you will support our aims and join our call on the Government to #scrapthecap so we can continue to be there for the patients who need us now and in the future. Without nursing staff, the NHS cannot survive.
Follow our #scrapthecap campaign on Twitter, @RCNYorksHumber.
Anne Kennedy and Carol Popplestone
RCN Council members. Yorkshire and the Humber Region