Nurses across the UK campaign for fairer pay
Nurses have taken their summer of protest to Downing Street today, with hundreds more making their voices heard at events across the UK.
From a protest at the iconic Angel of the North in Gateshead to a candlelit vigil in Southampton, RCN members and their supporters are taking to the streets calling for the 1% cap on public sector pay to be scrapped.
A rally in at speaker's corner in Nottingham and a silent protest in Canterbury were among 40 rallies, workshops and awareness events in towns and cities including Belfast, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff and Blackpool.
Outside Downing Street, former BBC Eastenders actress and NHS campaigner Maddy Hill expressed her support for nurses.
She was joined by sickle cell nurse Carey Johnson, who told the crowd she had taken a job in Kent because commuting to London was no longer viable.
She told Nursing Standard: ‘I wanted to work in London because that is where the specialist centres are.
‘We know there are already 14,000 vacancies in London alone. So it shows pay has acted as a deterrent.
‘There is no incentive to work in London. There can't be, otherwise why are specialist centres crying out for staff?
‘Places like London are where nurses get the best learning and understanding.
‘The future for nursing looks bleak.’
Trauma nurse Connor Bond told the crowd he had brought magic money tree seeds for prime minister Theresa May.
Making ends meet
South west London-based emergency nurse Nikki Williams said: ‘I am here because I think it's time that nurses got paid fairly.
‘The cost of transport, rent and cost of living has all gone up, and it's more difficult to get through the month without having to do extra shifts.’
Ms Williams said this left everybody more tired, because their days off are used up to make ends meet.
Cathy Beresford, a nurse of 19 years from east Berkshire, turned out with her three children and mother.
‘Struggle and a disgrace’
She said: ‘I feel so strongly that nurses need to be respected and valued, as do other NHS and public sector workers, because what we are doing is invaluable to everybody in society.
‘Nurses are the lifeblood of the NHS.’
Ms Beresford added she was concerned about the number of nurses in the profession and the future for nursing students.
‘If my children wanted to be nurses, I now have a sense of concern about whether they could manage to live.
‘It's a struggle and that’s a disgrace. I know there are nurses out there finding it difficult to live, despite everything we are doing for everyone.’
Day of action
Despite hints that leading Conservative MPs were in favour of dropping the 1% pay cap, the government has been resolute in its stance.
Chief minister to the treasury Liz Truss MP told parliament at the start of July, maintaining the cap was the responsible thing to do to ensure recruitment and retention was balanced with sustainability.
The day of action comes as new RCN figures show the number of experienced nurses quitting the profession has doubled since 2013-14.
An average of 600 nurses with more than ten years’ service are leaving each year due to the rising demands and pressures caused by the public sector pay cap.
RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘The best nurses should not be forced to throw in the towel because of staff shortages, relentless pressure and poor pay.
‘This perfect storm is engulfing nursing and the stakes could scarcely be higher.
‘When these people leave nursing, they are taking years of knowledge and hands-on experience with them.’
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