The reason nurses are most likely to consider taking industrial action over are staff or service cuts they believe will reduce patient safety, according to a survey by Nursing Times.
With some unions starting to ballot members for a “day of action” in November in protest at the government’s proposed changes to public sector pension schemes, Nursing Times asked nurses their views on industrial action.
Of the 1,100 respondents to the survey, 24% said they planned to take part in the day of action in some way, while 53% said they were yet to decide and 23% said they did not intend to take part.
Asked over which issue they would consider taking industrial action – but not strike action – 81% of respondents said cuts that affected patient safety, while the same percentage, 67%, said the proposed pension changes and employers’ plans to reduce workforce to make savings.
When asked what they would consider taking strike action over, the same issues were most popular, but overall fewer respondents were prepared to take this form of industrial action – 29% said they would not consider going on strike at all.
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Asked if their view had changed over the last six months on their preparedness to protest against pressures facing nurses and the NHS, 69% said they had become more likely to take part in industrial action – 29% said nothing had changed.
Most, 58%, said the Nursing and Midwifery Council had been right to remind nurses this month of their duties to protect patient safety when making a decision about whether to take industrial action, while 27% said the regulator had been wrong to do so.
The NMC was forced to “clarify” its position on the issue last week, after Unison threatened it with legal action for issuing a statement, which the union said, suggested nurses would be in breach of their code of conduct if they took part in industrial action.
The NMC confirmed that nurses could take industrial action without breaching the nursing code, highlighting it was up to employers to provide sufficient cover for staff taking part in official protests.
But it reminded nurses that sharing information with staff covering their roles was “especially important” in such situations.