RCN Wales Opens its biggest ever strike ballot of NHS members

Written by on 6th October 2022

Among safety critical professions, nurses have seen the greatest decline in pay over the last decade in the UK.

RCN Wales has opened its biggest ever strike ballot of NHS members across the country, urging them to vote in favour of strike action.

The latest pay deal, coupled with the growing cost of living crisis and unrelenting pressures of the job, is leaving nurses at financial, physical, and professional breaking point according to RCN Wales. They add that over 1800 nurses in Wales left the profession last year alone.

Director of RCN Wales, Helen Whyley, said

“In the first ballot of its kind for RCN Wales, we are urging our members to vote in favour of strike action. It is imperative that our members in Wales have their say and ensure their voices are heard.

“Strike action is undoubtedly a last resort, but we have exhausted every other option and the Welsh Government have not addressed our issues. Nursing professionals have endured years of real term pay cuts, understaffing and an utter disregard to the needs of the workforce.

“This ballot is to make sure patients in Wales receive safe and effective nursing care. We know that patient safety is of the utmost importance to our members, and that the current staffing crisis is its biggest threat There are currently around 3000 registered nurse vacancies in NHS Wales, 1,200 more than last year and this means patient safety is being comprised.

“If the Welsh government is serious about ensuring skilled and experienced nurses carry on nursing in NHS Wales and that the profession is attractive for future generations it must uplift nurse pay 5% above inflation. Only then we will see the tide changed on the massive wave of nurses leaving NHS Wales.

“Over the past couple of months, I have been visiting workplaces across Wales to speak with our members and listen to their concerns. The sentiment remains the same: enough is enough– the Welsh government must act now.”

This is the first time in its 106-year history that the RCN has balloted members across the UK on strike action and it is urging them to vote in favour to tell ministers that they must listen and act now to protect the NHS and patient care. The ballot closes on 2 November.

A recent YouGov Poll in Wales showed 85% of the public support a pay rise for nurses. There are now 3000 registered nurse vacancies in NHS Wales.

Richard Jones MBE, RCN Wales Board Chair and RCN Council Member for Wales said:

“Nursing staff are using foodbanks, unable to fuel their cars to deliver care in the community and leaving what should be a lifelong profession because they simply can’t afford to nurse anymore.

“The good will of nursing staff can no longer be exploited; it’s not sustainable and it’s not safe. That is why we are asking RCN members – who know first-hand the sheer extent of this crisis in their own settings every day – to vote for strike action.

“The people of Wales deserve high quality care, and our members deserve to be fairly paid for providing it.”

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