An online poll asking nurses whether they are willing to strike over restrictions to their pay has received 26,000 responses so far.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) released a pay-poll on 13 April to establish the mood within the workforce in the wake of another 1% cap on pay rises for NHS staff. It explicitly asks whether members want to strike, take ‘action short of a strike’, or take no further action.
Around 270,000 nursing professionals working in the NHS across the UK are eligible to take part. If members vote in favour of industrial action a formal ballot will then be held to meet legal requirements.
The RCN said low levels of pay are responsible for tens of thousands of unfilled nursing posts, and that unsafe staffing levels harm the quality of patient care.
RCN chief executive Janet Davies said: ‘Patients won’t get the care they deserve from a nursing workforce that is short on numbers and low on morale. If the government expects to fill the soaring number of vacant jobs, it must value nursing staff more than it has in recent years.
‘The false economy is driving people away from the profession. Whatever nurses decide, it is becoming clear that their goodwill cannot be relied on indefinitely.’
RCN members working in the NHS, or who are on NHS terms and conditions, have been urged by the RCN to take part in the poll. A valid membership number must be entered for a vote to count.