A historic decision was made by the Royal College of Nursing to complete an indicative ballot for industrial action of its members regarding the 1% pay cap in recent weeks. The poll has opened and has caused a furore of energy and excitement. For too long we have been the silent workforce, going that extra mile and keeping the NHS afloat on our good will. That good will has now ran completely dry after years of poor treatment by the Conservative government. Since 2010 we have been completely under appreciated, we have lost over 14% in real terms pay, our bursaries for the future of our profession have been cut, our safe staffing ratios abolished before they even got started and the national health service that we all love underfunded making our jobs so very hard. Our patients care has been affected, people are being denied care and treatment, patients are waiting hours on trolleys. We have been pushed and our good will has been taken advantage of for too long.
This is not a decision the Royal College of Nursing would take lightly, and one that they have never taken before. This highlights the seriousness of the situation and we need every member of the public behind us, empowering RCN members to feel like it is the right thing to do to act. As an active member of the RCN i have been going around speaking to staff on wards to gauge their thoughts and encourage them to participate in the poll. After seven years of austerity measures by the conservative government there is a workforce beaten and broken whilst trying to care for our nation. Austerity is affecting the care we are able to provide. The pay cap is fuelling the retention and recruitment crisis, with a vacancy rate of 24,000 this is ever growing, staff are leaving the profession or working elsewhere due to poor pay. And who can blame them? We all need to be able to get by in the currently expensive economic climate. With more staff leaving this is putting more pressure on those who remain. And those who remain are worried about how they are going to make ends meet, their morale at rock bottom. To best care for patients we need to be cared for ourselves.
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I have already taken part in the RCN poll, voting yes for industrial action. This is not a decision I have taken lightly. But after protesting, lobbying, demonstrating, debates and sharing our stories it is evident that the government will not listen to our words. The Department of Heath repeatedly thank us for doing such a good job and announce they are pleased to offer us a 1% rise. This is an insult. 1% is effectively another cut to add onto the loss of 14% in real terms pay since 2010.
Now is the time for the nursing profession to harness its power and roar with its voice, every single member needs to make sure they are heard. The whole future of nursing hangs in the balance, it is now down to us to save it. We not only need to partake in the RCN poll but we must too vote in our local council elections in May. As a nurse who has constantly seen my pay fall and NHS crumble, I know it is only a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government that can save my profession. Labour made the NHS and it is only Labour who can save it, which is why I urge everyone in May to vote for Labour in their local elections.