NUSRES does not want to strike, but if it does, it will not let its patients dry out.
That was the message given today by the chairman of the Royal College of Nursing Congress, who said nurses would not take the decision lightly if they voted for the action when a ballot, open on Thursday, takes place. will end in November.
BJ Waltho, a former Dorset University Hospitals nurse, retired from frontline NHS work after more than five decades last year.
Now, as president of the RCN Congress, she is calling on the government to act now on nurses’ pay and conditions.
Read more: Bournemouth and Poole hospitals are under ‘extreme pressure’
Confident that the MRC will obtain the majority needed for a strike, BJ said: “We have had a real time drop in our wages as our work has become more difficult. Because of this, nurses are leaving the profession and we are not getting new recruits.
“The thing is, nurses could go into other industries and make more money for less stress or pressure. We know that at the MRC, we need to attract more nurses and retain them.
“It’s not just about the money; the safety of our patients is currently compromised. If we agree to go on strike, we will not go on strike the next day. We won’t be like postal workers or railway workers, we will have a service similar to what we offer at Christmas.
Read more: BJ Waltho retires from nursing at Dorset University Hospital
BJ said nurses in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset are at a greater disadvantage in terms of the cost of living due to rising house prices in our area.
“When you look at rent and house prices, you see why people may move to Southampton or other urban areas because they get more for their money,” she said.
“Nurses are not only worried about the future; they worry today. They can see vacancies en masse.
“Nurses’ greatest stress is not providing care. This is the stress that every nurse faces on a daily basis.
“With a combination of an increasing workload and declining real-time wages, nurses are now saying enough is enough.
“Two-thirds of the public support us and I’m really proud that they know we didn’t take the decision lightly.
“We have worked so hard during the pandemic. And for the government to treat us like that is unacceptable.
BJ adds that nurses work many unpaid hours, some even having to resort to food banks. She has even heard of nurses who cannot afford the fuel to get to work.
“How is that true?” BJ added. “I would recommend anyone to be a nurse, but it’s hard work right now.”