The head of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said the union are to ballot on strike action as nurses need a “decent wage.”
The RCN is asking all of their members if they are prepared to walk out over pay, which is the first time this has ever happened in it’s 106-year history.
General Secretary Pat Cullen said the government has offered a 3% pay rise which “makes a difference to a nurse’s wage of 72p a week.”
On Thursday 300,000 nurses have been asked to vote whether or not to strike as new analysis by London Economics shows that pay for nurses has declined at twice the rate of the private sector in the last ten years.
Cullen told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “Nurses will do nothing to add to the risk that patients are facing every single day as a consequence of not having those nurses in the system to look after them.
“We continue to provide critical services throughout any strike.”
She added that nurses are taking action to “save the health service,” and then warned nurses are currently “struggling to provide safe care for their patients” amid the lack of staff.
She said, “Nurses have made every attempt to get Government to listen to the fact that there’s hundreds of thousands of nursing vacancies across this country and nurses are struggling to provide safe care for their patients.
“The only way that we’re going to address those vacancies and ensure that we recruit nurses into our health services and hold on to the brilliant services that we’ve got is if we pay them a decent wage.
“We’re very clear. Our position is that in order to address the crisis within the profession, it’s (pay of) 5% above the rate of inflation.
“If this Government does not address that, then our fear is that we’ll continue to lose the great nurses we’ve got.
“We’re losing thousands of nurses from our health service and that’s against a backdrop of thousands and thousands of vacancies.”
Tory party chairman Jake Berry told Times Radio, “A 5% offer has been made by the Government and I just hope that they (who) are thinking about it will understand that across the public sector, and in fact across the private sector, every time we make a 5% above increase inflation pay rise, which they are calling for, and I don’t think the Government will do, every time you do that what you do is just drive inflation and that has the biggest impact on the poorest households in this country.
“While I understand that people want a pay rise, that’s why, you know, the Government is driving its growth plan to ensure that Britain can get a pay rise.”