NHS nurses in England and Wales are ready to strike for the first time in a pay row.

Royal College of Nursing bosses have urged their half a million members to vote for action in a ballot next month.

GettyNHS nurses and midwives want a 17% pay rise[/caption]

They want a 17 per cent rise for NHS nurses and midwives — and branded ministers’ offer of between four and ten per cent a “disgrace”.

Soaring prices meant July’s offer amounted to a pay cut in real terms, the College said.

General Secretary Pat Cullen said: “Staff shortages are putting patient safety at risk and the Government’s failure to listen has left us with no choice but to advocate action.

“A lifetime of service must never mean a lifetime of poverty. Ministers’ refusal to recognise the skill and responsibility of the job is pushing people out of the profession.”

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The union wants five per cent on top of the retail price index rate of inflation (11.8 per cent in June) for a total 16.8 per cent rise.

The British Medical Association has warned that a doctors’ strike is also inevitable — as members called for a 30 per cent pay rise over the next five years.

NHS figures show hospitals and GP clinics are buckling under the strain of shortages.


Carol Popplestone, chair of the RCN Council, added: “This year’s award does not help with the cost of living. It will do nothing to help to recruit or retain more staff and will not keep patients safe.”

RCN bosses say the public will back nurses if they go on strike, with 60 per cent offering support in a poll.

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