A thousand Shropshire nurses balloted on strike action

Nurses at hospitals in Shropshire will be among hundreds of thousands balloted over strike action.

The Royal College of Nursing is today balloting members on strike action
The Royal College of Nursing is today balloting members on strike action

Today 300,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are being asked to vote on industrial action – for the first time in the union's 106 year history.

It raises the prospect of nurses at all of the county's major NHS institutions – Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, walking out.

It is understood that around 1,000 Shropshire nurses will be involved in the ballot, which closes on November 2.

The RCN said it is encouraging its members employed in the NHS to vote for strike action in protest at "years of Government-imposed pay freezes and below-inflation pay awards".

The RCN said new analysis by London Economics to coincide with the ballot launch showed that pay for nurses has declined at twice the rate of the private sector in the last decade.

Nurses' real-terms earnings have fallen by six per cent compared with 3.2 per cent for private sector employees, it was found.

The RCN also said the number of vacancies for NHS nurses in the Midlands has risen by nearly 18 per cent to 9,336 in the 12 months to the end of June, with around one in eight registered nurse posts unfilled.

Mark Butler, chair of the RCN in the West Midlands and a nurse at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “When NHS nursing staff are having to forgo meals or stop paying into their pension so they can afford to clothe their children or travel to work, the time has come to say enough is enough.

“Ministers have refused to give NHS workers the pay rise they need and deserve despite employers sounding the alarm that more and more of their staff are leaving for better-paid jobs in shops, pubs and restaurants.

“Patients and their families deserve better. They shouldn’t have to fear that when they need them, nursing staff won’t be there in sufficient numbers to keep them safe and well looked-after.

“Calling on our members to vote in favour of strike action is not a decision we have taken lightly, but we hope the public understand that it’s patient care that is compromised when the Government chooses to wilfully undervalue nurses and nursing.”

The RCN said new polling carried out by YouGov showed support from two-thirds of the public for nurses taking strike action, while three-quarters of respondents said there are too few nurses to provide safe care in the NHS.

Health workers in other trade unions are also being balloted for industrial action over pay.

Earlier this year, the Government gave most NHS workers a £1,400 pay rise, well below what unions were calling for.

Responding to the prospect of the ballot a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We value the hard work of NHS nurses and are working hard to support them – including by giving over one million NHS workers, including nurses, a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, as recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body.

“NHS staff also received a three per cent pay rise last year, increasing nurses’ pay by £1,000 on average despite a public sector pay freeze.

“Industrial action is a matter for unions, and we urge them to carefully consider the potential impacts on patients.”

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News