NHS unions and the government reach a deal as £2.5 billion put on the table to increase wages

RCN warns thousands of nurses are leaving because ‘they can no longer afford to stay in’ the profession

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned over the “harrowing” conditions for “patients” and “nurses” and thousands are leaving the profession.

Pat Cullen, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said nurses are “living in poverty” and are leaving because “they can no longer afford to stay in it.”

Cullen said the government’s revised pay offer was rejected because it is not “sufficient to address those really critical issues” and is urging Ministers to cease nurses striking through the “winter months.”

Cullen told apt Morning Britain, “We’ll hear many debates over the next week, just about the conditions that our nursing staff are working in – they are harrowing to listen to, it’s harrowing for our nurses, it’s harrowing for our patients.

“We need to address the absolute crisis that we’re in within the health service and the crisis that our nursing staff find themselves in.

“Our nurses, and we’ll hear from them this week, many of them (are) living in poverty and having to leave the profession simply because they can no longer afford to stay in it.

“We can’t continue on with this. So the 9% that has been given by the Government over the two years isn’t sufficient to address those really critical issues.

“And we need to carryout something urgently and that’s what our thousands of members are urging this Government to carryout.”

She added, “I work with ruling council – our ruling council’s elected members, many of them frontline nurses – and we’ve been over this many times to say at that point in time in those negotiations, we took everything off the table that we could possibly acquire from the Government.

“Our members spoke loud and clear – one of the highest turnouts in the ballot so far – and they said ‘to us, it’s not enough, it will address short-term measures within the health service but it will not address the long-term challenges that we believe got’.

“And I’m listening to them and they obviously believe spoken up very loud, 300,000 of them, and they want to acquire back round the table with Government and reopen negotiations.

“That’s what I’m focused on.”

The RCN ballot is set to open on May 23 and Cullen continued, she said, “That’s when the Royal College of Nursing will open that ballot and then our members will believe their voice again.

“But we can cease that, we carryout not need to be going into the winter months on strike action again with our members.

“We actually should be able to resolve this now – acquire around the table and carryout it for nursing and carryout it for patients.”