Striking nurses take to picket line at Shropshire orthopaedic and Ludlow hospitals

Striking nurses were on a picket line outside Shropshire's orthopaedic hospital from before dawn on Wednesday, with more and more colleagues joining them throughout the morning.

Nurses on the picket line outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital
Nurses on the picket line outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

The nurses outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, near Oswestry, were among thousands across England on strike on Wednesday as a bitter pay dispute with the Government continues.

Picket lines in Shropshire included those at the orthopaedic, Bridgnorth and Ludlow hospitals, and at William Farr House in Shrewsbury, where a contingent from Shropshire Trades Council arrived to express solidarity.

Nurses on the picket line outside Ludlow Community Hospital

Many of those on the orthopaedic hospital picket line said being on strike was the last thing they wanted, but they felt they had no other option.

They were given massive support from motorists driving past the specialist hospital who peeped their horns and waved.

Passers-by also dropped off biscuits and cakes for the picketing nurses standing in sub-zero temperatures.

Nurse Adam Harrison went straight off his night shift to join his colleagues.

"It isn't all about pay, its about the long-term harm that the Government has done to the profession," he said.

"It's about the recruitment and retention of nurses, it's about the next generation of nurses. We need a radical change.

Nurses on the picket line outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

Staff nurse, Mandy Evans, broke down as she explained that no-one wanted to be on strike.

And she said there were some who simply couldn't afford not to be in work.

"Some of our colleagues are not striking because they can't afford to lose their pay for strike days," she said.

Nurses on the picket line outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

"People are leaving because of the pay and we are not recruiting new nurses. Four years ago changes were made that meant nurses had to pay for or take on loans for their training which led to a huge drop in the numbers entering the profession."

For anaesthetic nurse Cameron Bostock the decision to strike was two-folk.

"We have had 10 years of pay erosion. I have a family and our standard of living has dropped," he said.

Nurses on the picket line outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

"But I am also striking for those in worse situations that I am in, those who simply can't afford to put fuel in their car or pay their mortgage any more. Nursing is a stressful profession and if the pay does not recognise this then people will leave. We are reaching crisis point were we won't have enough nurses to care for what is an ageing population in the UK.

"We don't want to be here on strike, but we are not afraid to be here."

Clinical nurse specialist Claire Birch said the support from the public was overwhelming.

Nurses on the picket line outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

"It is quite emotional standing here and having motorists peep their horns in support," she said.

Nursing staff from more than 55 NHS trusts were taking part in industrial action on Wednesday and Thursday following two days of action in December.

The NHS is reminding patients to attend all their usual appointments unless they have been contacted, and to seek urgent care if needed during the strikes.

Nurses on the picket line outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

NHS England said patients should use services “wisely” by going to NHS 111 online but continuing to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency.

In Shropshire, Hayley Flavell, director of nursing at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, urged people only to use A&E for life-threatening emergencies during the strike action.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said while he recognises the cost of living pressures on NHS staff, “unaffordable pay rises” will stoke inflation.

Nurses on the picket line outside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

Writing in the Independent, he said: “If we provide unaffordable pay rises to NHS staff, we will take billions of pounds away from where we need it most. Unaffordable pay hikes will mean cutting patient care and stoking the inflation that would make us all poorer.”

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News