Nurses should be prepared to take industrial action to defend safe staffing levels

1 in 8 nursing posts are vacant and on current trends, we will soon be short of 180,000 nurses. 

Matt Bodell
9 April 2019
Nurses should be prepared to take industrial action to defend safe staffing levels

Nurses should raise concerns when staffing isn’t safe and stand together to demand safe staffing.

James Anthony, a Registered Nurse from Birmingham, today told members at UNISON’s Annual Health Conference that chronic staffing shortages are having a direct impact on patient care.


He said; “We know from the evidence that low nursing numbers mean poor care and patient harm. And we know our members are bearing the strain, working over at the end of their shifts and working through breaks.

“Legal standards can become a key tool in our armoury to protect patient care, and that is only going to get harder. 

“We already leg behind countries like the US, Australia and New Zealand in terms of number of nurses per head of population and there are already over forty thousand nurse vacancies.

‘Projections for the future are stark’.

“1 in 8 nursing posts being left vacant. The projections for the future are stark. On current trends we will be short of one hundred and eight thousand by the year 2028.


“Safe staffing tools and legislation are important. But it is us, nurses on the coalface, who know what is and isn’t safe. It will be down to us to win safe staffing levels.

James summed up his message to nurses by adding; “We will need to raise our concerns when staffing isn’t safe. 

“We will need to stand together to demand safe staffing. And I have no doubt that as nurse shortages deepen and austerity continues unabated.

We, nurses in hospital and community teams, must be prepared to stand together and, where needed, take industrial action to win safe staffing.”


Both UNISON and the Royal College of Nursing have active campaigns to ensure safe nurse staffing levels are enshrined in law.

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