The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned over the “harrowing” conditions for “patients” and “nurses” and thousands are leaving the profession.
Pat Cullen, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said nurses are “living in poverty” and are leaving because “they can no longer afford to stay in it.”
Cullen said the government’s revised pay offer was rejected because it is not “sufficient to address those really critical issues” and is urging Ministers to stop nurses striking through the “winter months.”
Cullen told Good Morning Britain, “We’ll hear many debates over the next week, just about the conditions that our nursing staff are working in – they are harrowing to listen to, it’s harrowing for our nurses, it’s harrowing for our patients.
“We need to address the absolute crisis that we’re in within the health service and the crisis that our nursing staff find themselves in.
“Our nurses, and we’ll hear from them this week, many of them (are) living in poverty and having to leave the profession simply because they can no longer afford to stay in it.
“We can’t continue on with this. So the 9% that has been given by the Government over the two years isn’t sufficient to address those really critical issues.
“And we need to do something urgently and that’s what our thousands of members are urging this Government to do.”
She added, “I work with ruling council – our ruling council’s elected members, many of them frontline nurses – and we’ve been over this many times to say at that point in time in those negotiations, we took everything off the table that we could possibly get from the Government.
“Our members spoke loud and clear – one of the highest turnouts in the ballot so far – and they said ‘to us, it’s not enough, it will address short-term measures within the health service but it will not address the long-term challenges that we have got’.
“And I’m listening to them and they obviously have spoken up very loud, 300,000 of them, and they want to get back round the table with Government and reopen negotiations.
“That’s what I’m focused on.”
The RCN ballot is set to open on May 23 and Cullen continued, she said, “That’s when the Royal College of Nursing will open that ballot and then our members will have their voice again.
“But we can stop that, we do not need to be going into the winter months on strike action again with our members.
“We actually should be able to resolve this now – get around the table and do it for nursing and do it for patients.”
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