latest health care news

06.09.17

Nurses threaten strike action as more concerns raised over staff shortages

Major concern has today been raised by members of the public who have warned that they do not think there are enough nurses to provide safe, effective care.

A survey commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and carried out by YouGov found that around 72% of the public feels the NHS lacks adequate staff to carry out care duties.

Just over two-thirds (68%) also reported thinking that nurses are underpaid. Almost 60% of the survey participants who claimed to have voted Conservative in June’s snap election agreed with this statement.

In addition, the YouGov survey found that more than half (57%) of the public are willing to pay more tax to make the health service in the UK safer.

Today’s news follows reports in the national press earlier this week that suggested the unpopular public sector pay cap could potentially be lifted by Treasury officials in Autumn Budget.

The RCN has warned that if this does not indeed happen – backed by efforts to make up for loss earnings so far – industrial action will be back on the table from union members, who have recently held a ‘Summer of Protest’ to voice their strong opinions against the pay cap.

In May, nine in 10 of the 50,000 RCN members said they would get behind industrial action short of a strike, whilst eight in 10 said they would go on strike if the cap was not lifted.

“The public can see the shortage of nurses for themselves,” Janet Davies, the royal college’s chief executive and general secretary, commented. “Ministers are significantly out of touch with public opinion. They should heed this warning, scrap the pay cap and help to recruit thousands more nurses for a safer NHS.”

Davies also said that because of low wages created by the cap, experienced nursing staff are leaving the NHS “in droves” – not because they don’t like their job, but because they can’t afford to stay – whilst the next generation do not see their future in an undervalued profession.

“If the government fails to announce a change of direction in the Budget, then industrial action by nursing staff immediately goes on the table,” the CEO added.

But a spokesperson for the Department of Health explained that health secretary Jeremy Hunt had made clear ministers are well aware of the pressures faced by frontline NHS staff, and that efforts were being made to bring more nurses into the struggling workforce.

“The support and welfare of NHS staff is a top priority, and the government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class patient care,” they stated.

“We are helping the NHS to make sure it has the right staff, in the right place, at the right time to provide safe care – that’s why there are over 31,100 more professionally qualified clinical staff, including over 11,600 more doctors, and almost 12,000 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.”

Top Image: Peter Byrne PA Wire

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us throu more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental ... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >

interviews

Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

11/09/2020Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

As part of Organ Donation Week, NHE’s Matt Roberts spoke with our Man... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

NICE’s support for rebuilding capacity in non-Covid health services

18/09/2020NICE’s support for rebuilding capacity in non-Covid health services

Paul Chrisp, Director of the Centre for Guidelines, NICE When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK’s shores earlier this year, the NHS responded quickly, diverting and ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >