Nurses vote in support of strike ballot over low pay

The Royal College of Nursing warned that unless the next Government drops the 1% cap on pay it will hold a ballot on industrial action later this year, threatening the first ever strikes by its members.

The chair of the RCN's elected council has made a decision to launch a "summer of protest activity" instead, but has confirmed that it is readying to ballot its members later this year without a further poll if the pay policy isn't dropped.

It comes after the RCN, which is holding its annual conference in Liverpool, unveiled research showing an overall shortage of all types of nurses in England.

"Whilst we are pleased the Prime Minister states that she recognises the value of nursing, this does not reassure us, and feels like empty platitudes when we see no real action being taken to improve the lives of both patients and nurses".

The royal college argues that the policy has left nursing staff with a 14% real-terms pay cut since 2010 - a concern which echoes far and wide across the entire NHS workforce.

Farron, who also promised a 1p hike in income tax in order to raise another £6bn for the health service, said scrapping the pay cap is a fully costed pledge.

The RCN has warned that low levels of pay are partly responsible for tens of thousands of unfilled nursing posts.

If nurses did vote to walk out it would see patients facing another year of NHS industrial action disruption following last year's junior doctors' strikes.

Jon Skewes, director of policy at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "Continuing pay restraint is a disastrous policy for maternity services and the NHS".

Brown said the preliminary pay poll has already shown that members "can't and won't take any more" in an "unprecedented show of anger and frustration" over the pay cap. "We want to use the opportunity of the general election to influence the government to address the staffing crisis in the NHS and work to retain existing NHS staff in the service".

A survey by the Health Foundation last month found that England could face a shortfall of 42,000 nurses by 2020, and almost half of all nurses believe that staffing levels are already dangerously stretched. One in nine positions is vacant, according to analysis by the RCN.

He said it offered NHS bursaries for eligible student nurses and supported professional development.

"As is usual practice, the government accepted independent recommendations about this year's pay uplift".

A Tory spokesman said: "A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for Jeremy Corbyn to wreck our finances, risk our economic recovery and destroy the wages of ordinary working families across the country".

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