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Pay rise: maybe it's time to strike

Nurses are right to feel short changed by claims that earnings are up, says Jane Bates

Nurses are right to feel short changed by claims that earnings are up, says Jane Bates


Picture: iStock

There must have been a collective ‘oh’ across the NHS when we opened our salary packets last week. ‘I haven’t got my pay rise!’ someone said. Then we realised we had received our pay rise, and this was it. 

The government had screwed us over again. The anger was palpable, not least because of the disingenuous manner in which the politicians had treated us, with the timing of this debacle looking highly suspicious. 

Just a joke

Call me a cynic, but was this cunningly managed to emerge at the beginning of the school holidays when everyone is hot and preoccupied? A good time to bury bad news, as they say.

Parliament is now in recess until September, so hammering on the door of No. 10 or marching en masse over Westminster Bridge and chaining ourselves to the railings would be pointless. 

No doubt they are expecting that, come September, the heat will have gone from our outrage. The national media have shown little interest, so the mood in my neck of the woods is one of bitter resignation, and the usual gallows humour. 

‘I bought two chocolate bars with my pay rise,’ someone said. A healthcare assistant had spent the entire sum on a bottle of cheap plonk. For a secretary it was the third of a handbag. ‘How did you spend yours?’ is fast becoming a national pastime. 

Breaking point

Our unions were naïve to trust the government. But rather than heads rolling, a refund of the last year’s subscriptions might be a better way to repair the damage caused by their miscalculations and lack of backbone. However, the blame lies (and that is the operative word) with the politicians. 

All we need now is for the Nursing and Midwifery Council to raise the annual registration fee – I wouldn’t put it past them – and we will all be running for the door. 

This is what bothers me the most. How many wonderful nurses, working without breaks and under intolerable stress, will find this the last straw? My mother is in her nineties, my daughter pregnant – supposing my nearest and dearest are in need of care, and all the heroic NHS staff are simply not there anymore?   

Nurses don’t strike, they resign. Maybe some kind of industrial action is necessary to avert an even greater disaster. We must not take this lying down. 

 

 

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

 

 

 

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