Stand behind the nurses

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What I view as the Government’s ongoing exploitation of nurses and other health care staff is, frankly, sickening.

But the question many of us are asking is do the wider NHS staff have the stomach for a fight against the latest paltry pay award?

Nursing pay has fallen behind inflation by 14% since this Government, and its former version as the coalition, came to power.

Many fellow nurses I speak to tell me that they are so busy having to take extra “bank” shifts, in addition to their normal working week, that they don’t have the energy to protest.

To consider industrial action against their pay situation is a non-starter for many who are the main family bread winner.

Many nurses support the actions of the junior doctors.

But perhaps, because we haven’t protested, the 13% rise offered to doctors has not been offered to nurses.

I suspect, however, that if the Government tried to attack nursing terms and conditions by going after our “unsocial hours payments”, the response will be different.

In that situation, you would see a similar reaction to the industrial actions taken by junior doctors.

With over 430,000 RCN members across the country the impact would be unprecedented.

We nurse activists are there to lead the way but we need everyone to stand together.

We are keeping our powder dry for now.

But I suspect it is just a matter of time before a bad situation gets worse.

The public needs to stand behind the nursing community to ensure that we get a fair deal on pay.

Because, at the moment, so many of us are having to work a lot of extra hours just to make ends meet.

In the end, that is not safe for patients.

Gordon Lees,

Council member and Chair of Membership Representation Committee,

Royal College of Nursing,

Hartlepool.