Nurses hold protest in Portsmouth to lobby government for pay increase

THIS is another nail in the coffin for nurses.

Wednesday, 28th June 2017, 12:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th June 2017, 12:32 am
Members from the Royal College of Nursing held a protest at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, about the pay cap for nurses. Picture Ellie Pilmoor

That is the message as the Royal College of Nursing held a protest in Portsmouth yesterday.

A group gathered at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham as part of the national protest about a one per cent pay cap.

The nurses want to lobby the government to get a pay increase, which they say they have not received in seven years.

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This year’s pay rise was an independent recommendation made to the government, which it accepted.

Liz Jeremiah, the chairwoman of the Portsmouth branch of the RCN, was part of the protest which encouraged people to sign a petition.

She has been a nurse for 22 years and works at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

She said: ‘The entire NHS across the country is losing nurses and failing to recruit them.

‘This pay cap is another nail in the coffin. We don’t feel valued; we do the job because we love it and we care.

‘My pay has not gone up since 2012 but my mortgage, my utility bills and my food bills have gone up. It is about a 14 per cent pay cut in real terms because of inflation.’

Liz added the problem with the industry is not just pay. She said a shortage of nurses is having an impact nationwide.

‘We’ve got a major problem with staff numbers and it isn’t just a local issue,’ Liz said.

‘The bursary for nursing has been cut, with Brexit we worry we will lose a lot of our EU nurses and we won’t be able to get nurses to come in.’

The protest in Portsmouth was one of 30 held across the country getting support and signatures for the petition.

Di Francis, senior officer of the Royal College of Nursing, said they had been receiving a lot of support from the public.

‘The support has been fantastic,’ she said.

‘People have been coming to learn more and sign the petition which will be handed to the MPs. We want to lobby the government and get nurses the pay they deserve and for them to be rewarded appropriately.’

A recent poll of Royal College of Nursing members found 91 per cent would support a form of industrial action.

They offered prime minister Theresa May a chance to remove the cap this summer before a formal legal ballot on action later in the year.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said: ‘As the secretary of state Jeremy Hunt has made clear, the support and welfare of NHS staff is a top priority as they do a fantastic job.

‘The government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class patient care.’