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RCN and picketing nurses show their support for striking doctors

Nurses express solidarity with junior doctors in their pay dispute

The RCN is unequivocally backing 55,000 junior doctors, who for the fifth time this year went on strike over their contracts row with the government.

A college spokesperson said health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to re-enter talks with the doctors’ union the British Medical Association ‘reflects poorly on the government’s attitude towards industrial relations and staff morale in the NHS’.

Hundreds of nurses in England have found ways to support their colleagues either via social media or by using their breaks to join the doctors on picket lines.

More than 6,000 of them signed a petition calling on the government to drop its plans to change the doctors' contract. This was handed to Department of Health officials yesterday (April 27).

In a statement, the RCN said it understands the doctors’ anger at the proposed changes to their pay and the definition of unsocial hours. The BMA argues the move would be unsafe and unfair.

The RCN said: ‘Like junior doctors, most nurses are already working seven days a week, and believe patient care on Saturday and Sunday should be the same as on a Monday or a Tuesday.  

‘Our members are increasingly concerned that the government is looking to stretch staff and cut pay to fund extending services seven days a week instead of investing.

‘If the government is serious about a full seven-day service then there must be proper investment. Not to do so is not only a false economy, it will impact badly on patient care.’

Clinical lead nurse at Arden and Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit based in Chesterfield Joan Pons Laplana is one of many nurses to join the junior doctor protests.

He travelled to London last week to sit with junior doctors outside the DH in Whitehall, and on Monday attended a candlelit vigil outside DH offices in Leeds. He joined doctors on a picket at Chesterfield Royal Hospital yesterday and returned to London this week to help present the petition.

Mr Laplana, has also used his @thebestjoan Twitter account to galvanise support among his 17,000 followers, said: ‘I am doing this because someone has got to show nurses that this government will not stop with junior doctors, they will come for our unsocial hours and livelihoods next.'

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