Public voice concern over understaffed nursing workforce

The majority of the public believe that NHS nurses are underpaid and that there are not enough staff, according to a new YouGov poll.

The news comes as members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) hold a demonstration outside parliament to protest the 1% public sector pay cap.

Although Jeremy Hunt has previously confirmed the policy will come to an end next year, nurses are concerned about the lack of detail and clear dates for the implementation of the plans.

The union has called on government to lift the cap in the Autumn Budget, claiming it causes serious understaffing problems and stops organisations from retaining staff.

The survey, undertaken by YouGov on behalf of the RCN, found that seven in 10 people believe there are not enough nurses employed by the NHS, while 68% are concerned that nurses are underpaid.

It also found that more than half of the 1,600 adults surveyed were in favour of paying more tax to make the NHS safer.

The figures follow an RCN announcement in May that 80% of 50,000 members polled would be willing to strike to protest the government pay cap.

“The public can see the shortage of nurses for themselves,” said Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN. “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.

“Experienced nursing staff are leaving in droves - not because they don’t like the job, but because they can’t afford to stay, while the next generation do not see their future in an under-valued 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 chancellor has already been under pressure to solve problems in the health sector in his budget announcement.

Earlier this month, the Institute for Government (IfG) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), called on Philip Hammond to increase hospital funding in order to deal with a projected £500m deficit over this year.

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