‘I’m tired, I’m fed up’: St Mary's nurses join the picket line as they strike to improve patient safety and 'save' the NHS
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At least 50 nurses, patients and supporters could be seen clutching placards and rallying outside of St Mary’s Hospital, in Milton, yesterday as south east strike action got under way.
In December 2022, for the first time in history, tens of thousands of members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) took part in strikes to demand fair pay and improved patient safety.
Due to lack of action from the government, nurses in Portsmouth and all over the South East, are now taking their opportunity to support the movement, striking against a tired, overworked, and stressed workforce.
Debbie Austin, who has worked as a nurse in hospitals under the Solent NHS Trust for 35 years, was among the strikers fighting to ‘save’ the NHS.
She said: ‘I was a healthcare support worker for 11 years and then I did my training to become a nurse and I loved my job. I haven’t got the passion for it that I had, today I do, but on a day-to-day I’m tired, I’m fed up.’
Debbie, who also works as a safety representative at the Royal College of Nursing, said she was there to make sure nurses can provide safer staffing levels for patients.
‘We can’t give the level of care that we want to give, and it’s not the level of care we’re expected to give either,’ said Debbie.
‘You used to go home thinking you made a difference, now you go home now stressed, tired and feeling like you’ve not had a good day. Everyone I know has to work extra hours on top of their regular hours. We’re overworked and tired.’
The RCN are pushing for pay award that goes five per cent above inflation to rectify the years of pay cuts which, they say, are pushing people out of the nursing profession and putting patients at risk.
‘I support my daughter who’s a nursing apprentice, I help with childcare because she can’t afford it and I help with her bills,’ said Debbie.
‘I never thought in a million years I would go on strike. It was always something that we didn’t do because of the patients safety, but the care we give isn’t as good on a day-to-day basis. It’s never been like this, the morale is really low,’ she added.
’We worked hard during Covid, and gave up seeing family. People are leaving all the time, finding other jobs because they’re better paid, most NHS nurses are die-hard for the NHS, but it’s changing. The passion is starting to disappear.’
Naomi Ridett added: ‘I believe that better pay for nurses will create better patient care. A lot of us are striking today because we’re not in a critical acute setting, we’re doing it for the nurses who can’t come out of A&E, who can’t come out of intensive care. People are leaving, they are realising they can be better paid working in Aldi.
‘Our trust is promoting a food bank for us, it’s good but it should not have to be an option. Some of us can’t afford to even park at the hospital.’