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Nottinghamshire nurses poised to vote in strike ballot

The prospect of NHS nurses in Nottinghamshire going on strike moved a step closer today ( 6 October ) as the country’s biggest nursing union began balloting its members on industrial action.

The Royal College of Nursing is urging its 300,000 members who work in the NHS to vote for strike action over inadequate pay and nationwide nurse shortages.

It is the first time in its 106-year history that the RCN has conducted a UK-wide strike ballot. The postal ballot will run until 2 November.

Nursing staff at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust will be among those casting their vote.

The RCN is encouraging its members employed in the NHS across the UK to vote for strike action in protest at years of government-imposed pay freezes and below-inflation pay awards.

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New analysis for the RCN by London Economics shows over the last decade pay for nurses has declined at nearly twice the rate of all those working in the private sector – their real terms earnings having fallen by six per cent compared to 3.2% for private sector employees.

The College believes that a fair pay deal would also help to alleviate the growing nurse staffing crisis in the NHS by boosting the number of people joining and staying in the profession.

The number of vacancies for NHS nurses in the Midlands soared by nearly 18% to 9,336 in the 12 months to the end of June, with around one in eight registered nurse posts unfilled.

Ian Graham, Chair of the RCN in the East Midlands, said: “When NHS nursing staff are having to forgo meals or stop paying into their pension so they can afford to clothe their children or travel to work, the time has come to say enough is enough.

“Ministers have refused to give NHS workers the pay rise they need and deserve despite employers sounding the alarm that more and more of their staff are leaving for better-paid jobs in shops, pubs and restaurants.

“Patients and their families deserve better. They shouldn’t have to fear that when they need them, nursing staff won’t be there in sufficient numbers to keep them safe and well looked-after.

“Calling on our members to vote in favour of strike action is not a decision we have taken lightly, but we hope the public understand that it’s patient care that is compromised when the Government chooses to wilfully undervalue nurses and nursing.”

Ahead of the ballot, a YouGov survey found that public support for nurses taking strike action has increased to nearly two-thirds (65%) and that three-quarters of people feel there are not enough nursing staff employed in the NHS to provide safe care for patients.

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