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Why Nurses Should Support the Junior Doctors

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It isn’t often that opportunities like this come along.

Solidarity, that word you rarely see apart from dashed in red on the pages of the Morning Star… is a good word. We shouldn’t be afraid of saying it, despite its historical, hammer and sickle connotations. At the moment, junior doctors are expressing solidarity with each other. Professionals will always have the potential to do this, unlike politicians in the present Westminster set-up, rather unfortunately in some cases. Meanwhile, I lose track of who exactly David Cameron and co. upsets from one week to the next. I’m Alright Jack dances unnervingly with Jack Boots. Honest, old-fashioned notions like Human Rights are defenestrated. The whole thing, like any rotting tomato, is decidedly seedy.

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What should nurses do about the strike action? I can’t speak for others, but I would do the same as the doctors, in their position. I am sure a lot of nurses feel solidarity. But solidarity is something that a lot of people find uncomfortable. People don’t know where to put it, like an ornament that doesn’t go with the room decor. It’s then easy to forget about it somewhere – “oh, just shove it into one of those closets upstairs, along with the skeletons.” The Hippocratic oath makes striking problematic, although it ultimately it doesn’t destroy the possibility of doing so. Perhaps it’s easier to remind people what they will personally lose from a diminished medical workforce. Nurses, and also doctors, can be conservative with a small “c,”- “no strikes please, we’re British” – that kind of attitude. Moreover, taking the example of the London nursing milieu, so many of us are from abroad – not secure enough to rock the boat – or young and idealistic – constantly moving to new and exciting clinical areas. It makes supporting anything lasting rather hard.

But in this galling electoral cycle we can see the whole concept of the publicly employed health professional under threat. Nursing is often about weighing up different risks; the relative risk that someone will fall versus the risk of compromising their liberty. I would say that the risk that the Tory government pose to our country’s well-being is pretty great. Not only are the National Audit Office worried, but the social care world that surrounds the NHS, maintained by local councils, is also under threat.

But there are ways to fight back. Workplaces can only operate if there are people there working in them. In the world of industry this is no longer the case (through automation). But a day working in the NHS is a lesson in how individuals, rather than machines, can still come together and do amazing, miraculous things.

When Jeremy Hunt recently appeared wearing the garb of a ward hostess, or an HCA’s tunic, “working” on the ward, there is an acknowledgement of this very fact. He’s using a device the public recognise. Universally, and quite deservedly, despised by most health workers, he indirectly validates the “people power” within the NHS with these self-promotional actions. But people power is more than a gimmick – though it’s a naff phrase. You can withdraw your labour, as Hunt is just finding out.

To say all of these problems started when the Conservatives came into power would be a mistake. But rarely has a government been quite so selectively deaf to the concerns of Society. Nurses should support the junior doctors and not let the momentum fade. The solidarity can be built and the means to stop “Open Hunting Season” exist. I said before that it wasn’t often opportunities like this come along. The horizontal nature of  modern day British healthcare is to our advantage. Let’s join the doctors on this horizon; let’s be interdisciplinary about protecting our health service. Yes, it will be rainy and it will be January. Get a badge. Discuss it with your colleagues at work. Write an irate letter to The Sun or Daily Mail. And please come to the picket.

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NHS staff top list of those applying for payday loans

Nursing unions say years of cuts to NHS funding and pay restraint for NHS workers is to blame.

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NHS staff are among those most likely to rely on payday loans, suggests a study.

The payday loans study, which was commissioned by short-term credit broker CashLady, found that NHS staff were significantly more likely to apply for payday loans than workers at any other organisation.

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After NHS workers, supermarket workers at Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, followed by staff at McDonald’s, Morrisons, Royal Mail and finally the British Army.

StepChange, the debt charity, says that the loans, which charge interest of up to 1,325% per year, are not a debt solution and can make your financial situation worse – the charity advises the majority of people to avoid using such services.

Nursing unions say years of cuts to NHS funding and pay restraint for NHS workers is to blame.

Gerry O’Dywer, Employment Relations Advisor at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These figures reveal the financial pressure nursing staff are under. Years of pay cuts left them struggling to make ends meet.

“The health service cannot keep losing valuable highly-trained staff because they can’t afford to pay the bills each month. The proposed NHS Pay Deal would give NHS staff the largest pay rise in ten years – it will go some way in helping nursing staff and preventing nurses from leaving the profession.

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“The RCN’s own Lamplight Support Service also provides tailored financial advice and support for nursing staff.”

Sara Gorton, Unisons Head of Health, said; “No-one should be so desperate for money that they have no option but to go cap in hand to unscrupulous lenders, who offer quick and easy money at sky-high rates of interest that can take a lifetime to pay back.

“It’s a terrible state of affairs that NHS workers are so strapped for cash they don’t have enough money to get through the month, and have to go deep into debt trying. It shows how much harm years of government pay restraint has caused.”

NHS employers suffering with debt can contact their union or a national debt charity for advice and assistance.

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RCN starts balloting members over proposed pay deal

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has started to ask its members in England if the union should accept the first “significant pay rise” in 7 years.

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The Royal College of Nursing has started to balloting members over the proposed NHS pay deal.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has started to ask its members in England if the union should accept the first “significant pay rise” in 7 years.

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The negotiations, which concluded in March, came after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt scrapped the 1 percent cap on public sector pay rises following a campaign by the Royal College of Nursing.

All healthcare unions involved in the negotiations, with the exception of GMB, have recommended their members accept the pay deal. However, many have raised concerns over a further sub-inflation rise, changes to unsociable hours payments for ambulance and support staff, removal of agenda for change sick enhancements and changes to the incrementation system.


Can I vote? To be eligible to vote you must hold an active member of the Royal College of Nursing and work for an NHS hospital or community service in England.

Should I vote? Absolutely, a union is only as powerful as its membership. This is a democratic process that involves you and your future.

How should I vote? We cannot tell you how you should vote, you should weigh up your individual circumstances. You can take a look at the proposed Agenda for Change pay scales or use the pay calculator to find out the effect the rise would have on your salary. But, we encourage you to do your own research.

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How to vote: Eligible members will be contacted with an invitation to vote via email.

It says I’m not eligible: You need to contact the RCN Membership Team on 0345 7726 100.

How long do I have to vote? The online poll will run for six weeks – closing on Tuesday 5 June.


Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: “The serious amount of new money the Government put on the table is a credit to the nursing staff who turned up the heat on Ministers last year. Their strong campaigning meant negotiators could fend off all unpalatable demands to cut holidays or pay for unsocial hours.

“When there are 40,000 unfilled nurse jobs in England alone, voting yes to the best rise in a decade will go some way to making nursing an attractive career again.

“The deal is not a silver bullet to cure all ills nor can it rewrite history. But rejecting it would set back the fight for higher wages by eighteen months or longer and leave people worse off.”

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Rejecting the pay deal is ‘deluded’ and ‘unrealistic’, says RCN Negotiator

“Critics who advocate an aggressive rejection of the deal without a credible alternative approach may be deluded about the effectiveness of such a ‘male’ approach. They are also unrealistic.”

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The Royal College of Nursing’s Chief Negotiator claims that members who wish to aggressively reject the proposed NHS pay deal are ‘deluded’ and ‘unrealistic’.

Josie Irwin, the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) Chief Negotiator during the recent NHS pay discussions claims that members who wish to ‘aggressively reject’ the NHS pay deal are ‘deluded’ and ‘unrealistic’ about the alternatives.

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The RCN worked alongside fourteen other healthcare unions, including Unison, to negotiate the proposed NHS pay deal with the Government – which members are set to vote on later this month.

With gender pay gaps in the headlines and nursing being a predominantly female profession, the NursingStandard article titled, ‘A ‘male’ style of negotiation would not have delivered a better pay deal‘, argues that an all-female team nor a more aggressive ”male’-style’ of negotiating would have changed the outcome of the negotiations and the deal is the ‘best possible’ in the current economic climate.

Whilst many agree the gender of the team is irrelevant, the style and context of negotiations are certainly paramount.

Ms Irwin admits in the article; “It is not the best they [members] hoped for, but they [members] understand it is probably the best they will get.”

Concluding the article with; “Critics who advocate an aggressive rejection of the deal without a credible alternative approach may be deluded about the effectiveness of such a ‘male’ approach. They are also unrealistic.”

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The RCN warns that if members reject the offer, it is likely that pay recommendations would be made by the NHS Pay Review Body and as the £4.2 billion of extra funding agreed by the Treasury would no longer be available, the offer could revert to the 1% of previous years.

Many, including its own members, have raised concerns over the sub-inflation deal and the union has been heavily criticised on social media for its pro-deal agenda.

A spokesperson for the RCN said: “We make no apology for defending this hard-won deal in very strong terms. Every single member of the RCN will see their pay rise by considerably more than in recent years and that should not be forgotten.”

You can view the proposed changes to the agenda for change pay scales.

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