Nurses make pay protest at picnic in park

Photo Neil Cross
Maggy Heaton and Helen Taylor of Royal College of Nursing holding a protest picnic on Avenham Park
Photo Neil Cross Maggy Heaton and Helen Taylor of Royal College of Nursing holding a protest picnic on Avenham Park
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Frustrated nurses held a picnic of protest in response to the government’s ongoing paycap of their wages.

The picnic, in Avenham Park in Preston yesterday, was organised by the Royal College of Nursing’s Summer of Protest, seen as a last chance for the government to review the one per cent cap on salaries. An event was also held in Blackpool.

RCN senior regional officer Sharron Porter, 58, said: “We decided to hold the event because nurses don’t feel valued. Small things like this raise awareness and spread our message.”

Around 10 people braved the rain to attend the picnic. The RCN will be taking selfie boards into hospitals where nurses can write their feelings on frames before their photo is taken, and they are also sending postcards for hospitals to fill in before delivering them to local MPs.

Since 2010, pay freezes and the one per cent cap on public sector pay increases are estimated by the RCN to have left NHS nursing staff at least £3,000 worse off as the cost of living is rising. Sharron said: “Even this morning a nurse rang me to tell me she couldn’t do it anymore. It’s so sad. There are currently over 40,000 vacant nursing positions in the UK and nurses are really struggling so they don’t compromise patient care.”

If the government does not review the pay cap, the RCN will issue a ballot later in the year for its members to vote on whether to take industrial action.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “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.”