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Nurses take to the streets as ‘summer of protest’ begins

RCN's campaign for fair nurse pay begins with vigil in Norwich and 'scrap the cap' rallies across England and Scotland.

The RCN's summer of protest began officially with a candlelit vigil in Norwich last night to demand better pay for nurses.

Hundreds of nurses and healthcare assistants are expected to take to the streets at rallies across England and Scotland today.

Industrial action

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'When NHS and care services are short of staff, patients pay a heavy price. Nursing staff are taking an unprecedented stand and saying "enough is enough". They know the risks of cut-price healthcare and will not tolerate it.'

Pay restraint has seen nurses lose, on average, 3,000 since 2010, according to the RCN. The college has warned the government that if calls for a pay rise are not heeded, it will call a historic

The RCN's summer of protest began officially with a candlelit vigil in Norwich last night to demand better pay for nurses.


Nurses protested the ongoing pay cap at a vigil at the Edith Cavell Memorial in Norwich. Picture: Barney Newman

Hundreds of nurses and healthcare assistants are expected to take to the streets at rallies across England and Scotland today.

Industrial action

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'When NHS and care services are short of staff, patients pay a heavy price. Nursing staff are taking an unprecedented stand and saying "enough is enough". They know the risks of cut-price healthcare and will not tolerate it.'

Pay restraint has seen nurses lose, on average, £3,000 since 2010, according to the RCN. The college has warned the government that if calls for a pay rise are not heeded, it will call a historic ballot of its 270,000 members on industrial action, including the possibility of a strike.

RCN London will hold a two-hour demonstration outside the Department of Health in Whitehall from midday today. Regional director Bernell Bussue said the pay cap had 'driven nurses into financial difficulty, out of the profession altogether and endangered patient care with understaffed wards and overstretched staff'.

Elsewhere, nurses will be holding 'scrap the cap' events in Edinburgh, Reading, Oxford, Portsmouth, Southampton, Birmingham, Huntingdon, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Basildon, Brighton and Margate.

'Show of anger'

At the candlelit vigil held at the Edith Cavell Memorial in Norwich last night, RCN Norfolk chair Helen Oatham said: 'Holding this vigil was a great way to kick off the summer of protest and we were pleased that so many nursing staff, students and others came along to show their support.

'This is an unprecedented show of anger and frustration over the government's pay policy. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.'

RCN members voted in favour of protests during their annual congress in Liverpool in May, with 91% of respondents to a pay survey backing industrial action.

The trade unions Unison and Unite, which have nurse members, have also called for an end to the public sector pay cap.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'As the secretary of state has made clear, the support and welfare of NHS staff is a top priority, as they do a fantastic job. The government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class patient care.'


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