The Royal College of Nursing has launched its biggest strike ballot in its 106-year history.
More than 300,000 members, including nursing staff across Kent, are being contacted today (October 6) about the possibility of taking strike action.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “We are understaffed, undervalued and underpaid. For years our profession has been pushed to the edge, and now patient safety is paying the price. We can’t stand by and watch our colleagues and patients suffer anymore.
“Though strike action is a last resort, it is a powerful tool for change. And we must demand that change. Enough is enough. I urge you to vote ‘yes’ in this ballot.”
The ballot relates to NHS pay. A below inflation NHS pay award has been announced in England and Wales, and a below inflation NHS pay offer has been made in Scotland.
The RCN is campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above inflation to overcome a decade of real-terms pay cuts, support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis and recognise their safety critical skills.
Pat Cullen said: “Patient care is at risk because of chronic staff shortages, but nursing staff can’t afford to join or stay in the profession. There are tens of thousands of unfilled nursing jobs across the UK. Unless governments start to value and pay nursing staff properly, there will be a further exodus, adding more pressure to an overstretched system.”
The law states that strike ballots must attract at least a 50% turnout and the majority must vote yes for strike action to be lawful.
Ballot papers are being sent by first class post to eligible members by Civica Election Services.