Opinion

It's no surprise that nurses are prepared to take action over pay

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Almost two thirds of nurses (63%) would be prepared to take industrial action short of a strike over pay, according to a major Nursing Standard survey.

The UK-wide survey of almost 6,000 (5,950) nurses found that one third (33%) were in favour of a full strike. Eighty four per cent of respondents said their current salary does not reflect their hard work.

One in four nurses said they had taken out a loan because of financial hardship, while one in 50 had resorted to using food banks to feed their families.

The results show clear signs of an autumn of NHS discontent, coming as four health unions – the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Unison, Unite and the GMB – begin balloting more than 400,000 NHS members in England over the government’s one per cent pay rise.

Editor Graham Scott said: ‘While it would be possible to hold a strike that had little or no effect on patients, the idea of walking off wards or refusing to visit people in their homes is anathema to most nursing staff, even when they are being treated with such disdain by those in power. The sad truth is that this goodwill among nurses has been exploited time and time again by employers and politicians.'

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams says the survey sent a strong message to the heart of government: ‘Morale is low, nurses are working over their hours. They are angry.’

About the author

Graham Scott is editor of Nursing Standard, published by RCNi