Nursing staff across Scotland’s NHS are being asked to vote for strike action in a ballot opening today (6 October).
This is the first time in the Royal College of Nursing’s 106 year history that members in Scotland have been asked to consider strike action. The move demonstrates the extent of the staffing pressures, patient safety concerns and cost of living challenges that nursing staff are facing on a daily basis.
Scotland’s public are supportive and clear on the need to invest and value nursing staff. Recent polling shows that 80% of adults in Scotland believe there are too few nurses to provide safe care to patients, 78% support an improved pay offer and the same number would sympathise with nursing staff if they were to go on strike, with seven in ten (69%) showing support for strike action.
Earlier this year RCN members working in NHS Scotland on agenda for change contracts voted overwhelmingly to reject the Scottish government’s pay offer – over 90% said it wasn’t good enough. Members in all Scotland’s regional and special NHS boards will be balloted.
Julie Lamberth, Chair, RCN Scotland Board said:
“That we have got to this point is simply shocking, but we have been left with no option. For years we have been overlooked and undervalued. Expected to carry on regardless. Patient care is suffering, staffing levels are unsafe and members are facing a daily battle of how to feed their family, heat their homes and travel to their work.
“None of this is new, and as we head into another winter, we know it’s only going to get worse. This is our opportunity to take a stand, for our patients and our profession, to show Scottish government that they must act now, and is why I am urging members to vote in favour of strike action”
Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland Director said:
“Nursing staff will always put patient safety first and our members will not take the decision to vote for strike action lightly. They have been forced into this position by the failure of Scottish government to address the nursing workforce crisis and to ensure nursing staff are paid fairly for the safety critical work that they do. Ministers must come back with a significantly improved offer that responds to our members’ concerns.”
The RCN’s Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is calling for a pay increase of 5% above RPI inflation in order to recognise the safety critical aspect of nursing, to support retention and recruitment, to ensure patient safety and to compensate for the failure of salaries to keep up with the cost of living during the last 10 years.