Nurses given £50m war chest for strike ahead of historic ballot on walkout

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Some 300,000 members of the Royal College of Nurses will be balloted next week on industrial action in a row over pay. The union calculates inflation at 11.8 per cent and wants a wage increase of an additional five per cent above that. An average nurse earns around £33,000 – and they will be paid £50 for every day they walk out.

The crunch comes as the NHS, which today starts a Covid vaccine booster programme for over-50s and health and social care workers, braces itself for a potentially catastrophic winter.

The RCN called the vote a “defining moment” and any walkout could see routine hospital facilities, such as maternity wards, thrown into chaos.RCN chief Pat Cullen said:  “Staff shortages are putting patient safety at risk and the Government’s failure to listen has left us with no choice but to advocate strike action. 

“A lifetime of service must never mean a lifetime of poverty. Ministers’ refusal to recognise the skill and responsibility of the job is pushing people out. The next prime minister must change course urgently.” 

RCN polling suggests two-thirds of the public support a nursing walkout. However, it also revealed a 12 per cent fall in public confidence in the safety of NHS care in two months as fears grow over the shortage of nurses.

UK nurses will be balloted from September 15 on action for the first time in the union’s 100-year history.

The £50 payments will be made from the first day of a strike instead of from the second day of lost earnings.

Carol Popplestone, chairwoman of the RCN Council, told members: “Your vote in the ballot will be essential to turning the tide on low pay.”  

Health chiefs are understood to be drawing up winter plans to prepare for “reasonable worst-case scenarios” and are set to draft in nurses from India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

UK nurses will be balloted from September 15 on action for the first time in the union’s 100-year history.

The £50 payments will be made from the first day of a strike instead of from the second day of lost earnings.

Carol Popplestone, chairwoman of the RCN Council, told members:  “Your vote in the ballot will be essential to turning the tide on low pay.”  

Health chiefs are understood to be drawing up winter plans to prepare for “reasonable worst-case scenarios” and are set to draft in nurses from India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.



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