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‘Nurses are angrier than they’ve been in 32 years’

  • Comments (6)

Today, thousands of nurses are expected to take part in industrial action.

Members of Unison, Unite, GMB and the RCM will stage a four-hour stoppage, followed by “four days of action short of strike action”, in which members will stop working during breaks or staying late.

So far, so expected. There’s a lot of anger over the real-term pay decreases nurses have faced over the past few years and the word “strike” has been bandied about for months.

But the fact that really surprises me is that this will be the first time such action over pay has been taken in 32 years.

I’m not surprised that nurses don’t take strike action lightly; you come into this career to do your best for patients and no matter what is put in place to protect them, they will be affected. The characteristics that draw people into nursing are the same personality traits that prevent them from kicking up a fuss.

What does surprise me is the apparent lack of awareness among those making the decisions of just how dire the state of play is for nurses.  Nurses are angrier than they’ve been in 32 years.

As Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, puts it: this government has shown “utter contempt” for NHS workers.

But no matter how bad things get for health professionals, I know from my own experience of working in the health service that it’s often easier to just keep turning up at work, doing your best and going home again. When you’re part of an organisation as huge as the NHS, it’s hard to see that anything you do can make a difference.

Health professionals can often fall into the trap of accepting that pay freezes, short staffing and low morale are just part of the job. Maybe they’ll moan in the staff room but ultimately accept that as one cog in a huge machine, they don’t have the power to influence change.

Is it possible that the government is counting on nurses’ altruistic natures and lack of morale to get away with cutting pay?

If so, then the more they get away with, the worse things will get.

The Nursing Times team will be attending as many hospitals as we can on Monday morning to offer our support and find out first-hand how nurses are feeling. If you’re a member of a union that is striking, please make every effort to be there. You deserve better.

Find out how the profession reached the point of industrial action on our NHS Strike page.

  • Comments (6)

Readers' comments (6)

  • Anonymous

    "Is it possible that the government is counting on nurses’ altruistic natures and lack of morale to get away with cutting pay?" A thousand times yes.
    When the Pay Review Body recommended a 1% pay rise for NHS staff, including nurses, the Government ignored it and said they could not afford it. But when the Pay Review Body for MP's recommended a 10% pay for MP's, the government said they were duty bound to honor it. So there is one rule for MP.s and another one for everyone else. No wonder people are turning against politicians. They have taken nurses for granted up until now on the assumption that nurses wont strike. It is time for change.

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  • Anonymous

    Jeremy Hunt was specially chosen as Health Secretary by the PrimeMinister to do a specific job. That job was to dismantle and destroy the NHS by running it into the ground... If you have any doubts, in 2005 Jeremy Hunt was responsible for a pamphlet he co-authored with Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, (Direct Democracy). An Agenda for a New Model Party, called for the NHS to be denationalised and replaced it with a national insurance model... Here's the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt's, co author of the pamphlet Daniel Hannan, back in 2009 clearly explaining his opinion of our NHS to America on FoxNews. It's most definitely well worth a watch...
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiSPRkq28iU

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  • we now live in an elitest society

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  • Anonymous

    How can nurses be expected to survive on the ridiculously low salary they get. Many nurses I know are going to food banks as they cannot afford to feed their children and most work overtime just to pay the bills. Perhaps the only language the politicians understand is if we strike. It would be interesting to let Hunt try to do the job for the pittance it pays and see the hard work nurses and other workers put into their jobs. We did not come into nursing to get rich but we are being treated with utter disdain and lack of respect by the government. Many nurses are the main breadwinners and it is essential our salary comes into line with the police, teachers and paramedics. Interestingly enough, the government are happy to pay billions to foreign aid while treating its own workers like they do. Morale has never been so low, staffing shortages mean many of us are doing two people's jobs, not taking a break even on a 12 hour shift and going into debt to keep their heads above water.
    I have now left to work for a nursing agency and am earning £37 an hour. Don't regret it for a minute and am getting most of my colleagues to do the same.

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  • Anonymous

    Jeremy Hunt is a millionaire as is all the Conservative cabinet so it is a case of "I'm alright Jack".

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 15-Oct-2014 4:33 pm

    somebody's personal situation and comparison with you own has nothing to do with it!

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