The RCN warns a lack of staff is putting patient care at risk.
According to new YouGov polling data, public support for nurses taking industrial action over pay has risen sharply.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is calling upon the newly appointed Health Secretary Steve Barclay to award NHS workers “an immediate, substantial pay rise”.
Four out of five people (86%) in England support a pay rise for nursing – with nearly two-thirds of those favouring an increase of 5% or above (62%).
The RCN says the public mood echoes the mood within the present nursing profession and warns that patient care is being put at risk due to cuts.
£6,000 per year worse off.
In May, when the UK saw a rise in discontent over pay, 42% of the respondents said they were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ likely to support nurses taking industrial action over their pay. That figure has now risen to almost half (49%) amid the prospect of yet another below-inflation pay rise across multiple sectors, including nursing, where ministers have suggested a 2% to 3% award.
Experienced frontline nurses are already around £6,000 per year worse off now than in 2010 when the Conservative party first took office and implemented austerity measures.
Health unions across the board are calling for an above-inflation rise, with the RCN asking for 5% more than inflation. However, is it believed that the independent NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) has recommended a rise of between 4% and 5%.
With the next NHS pay award already three months late the union is calling on urgent action.
Patient care is at risk.
RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen, explains, “Lack of staff is putting patient care at risk. The pressure on nursing is unrelenting and now soaring inflation means staff are struggling to pay the bills and going to food banks.
“They are leaving the profession in their droves – the incredible financial hardship they face is proving the final straw. After a decade of pay cuts by government, nursing cannot afford to wait any more.
“Nursing is a highly-skilled profession and must be recognised as such – investing in the profession must start with fair pay.
“No nurse ever wants to take industrial action but nothing is off the table for our members. Nursing staff may feel they have no other choice to protect patient safety.”