Used Against Themselves – Nurses On Strike

This is a piece recently published to all members of the National Nursing & Midwifery Council in the United Kingdom. A Threat toward any future strike action based on severe cuts to their Pensions that they are rightly entitled to.

Reference number: 32-2011                                                                              6 October 2011

Nurse regulator says industrial action must not be at the expense of patient safety

Nurses and midwives must ensure that patient safety is not compromised by industrial action the head of the nursing and midwifery regulator warned today.

Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said that the health and wellbeing of people must always be the first concern of nurses and midwives.

Professor Weir-Hughes said:

“We recognise that many nurses and midwives are members of trade unions. The NMC respects their democratic right to express support for their trade unions and to lobby on a wide range of issues.

“However this must never be at the expense of the people that they are caring for. Nurses and midwives are in a unique position of trust. They have a professional obligation under their code of conduct to ensure that the care of people is their first concern and that they must provide a high standard of practice and care at all times.

“In considering how to respond to calls for industrial action, nurses and midwives must ensure that their actions do not jeopardise good standards of care. They will need to consider very carefully the impact of their actions on the people receiving their care.

“In making their judgements they must take their direction from the requirements of “The code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. As the regulator for the professions, it is the NMC’s responsibility to remind nurses and midwives that they are personally accountable for actions and omissions in their practice and they must always be able to justify their decisions. 

“Nurses and midwives are reminded that their registration could be at risk if they fail to comply with the code.”


Notes for editors

1          We are the nursing and midwifery regulator for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Islands. We exist to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public. We set standards of education, training, conduct and performance for nurses and midwives, and hold the register of those who have qualified and meet those standards. We provide guidance and advice to help nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date and uphold our professional standards. We have clear and transparent processes to investigate and deal with nurses and midwives who fall short of our standards.

2          Nurses and midwives are bound by the obligations of their code of professional conduct: “The code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives” (NMC 2008).

3          For media enquiries, please contact Leila Harris-Ryberg, Media Team at leila.harris-ryberg@nmc-uk.org020 7681 5884.

A senior union leader has angrily attacked the government over its controversial public sector pension reforms, warning that talks aimed at averting strikes were now in “jeopardy”.Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, rounded on ministers, accusing them of “naive tactics” and a lack of negotiating skills.His outburst followed an expected announcement from the government that public sector workers will have to pay up to £3,000 a year more to keep up their pension schemes.

Ministers will  set out precise details of the additional contributions facing millions of doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants.Mr Prentis said ministers should abandon the “playground games”, adding: “We entered into the scheme specific talks on public sector pensions in good faith and we genuinely believe we are making progress, albeit slowly.“But these talks are being put in jeopardy by the crude and naive tactics of government ministers who don’t seem to understand the word negotiate.“The government must take its responsibilities seriously, and stop treating these talks like some kind of playground game.“Let’s not forget that these talks are about real people, hard-working individuals who signed up to, and pay into, a pension scheme that is supposed to cushion them against poverty in old age. Extra contributions won’t go back into the pension schemes, but straight to the Treasury to pay off the country’s deficit – effectively a tax on public sector workers to pay for the bankers’ mess. That is totally unjust.“It is totally unhelpful to the progress of these talks to release their bargaining position as though it is set in stone. If it is set in stone, then there is no point in having a single further meeting.”

Unison said any changes to public sector pensions should be based on evidence and not “political ideology”, pointing out that the average pension in local government was £4,000, and just £2,800 for women.

In the NHS, average pensions were £7,500, and £3,000 for women, with members of both schemes paying between 5.5% and 7.5% of their salaries to save for their retirement, said Unison, pointing out that if they did not save, they would end up on means-tested benefits at a cost to taxpayers.The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which has more than 400,000 members, said it will support the biggest and most damaging industrial dispute to hit Britain for a generation.But at a special meeting of the RCN Council it did not decide to ballot immediately on industrial action on November 30, when millions of state workers are expected to take part in a series of one-day strikes.The strike threatens to wipe out vital services as workers including teachers, prison guards, firemen, paramedics and gravediggers walk out over plans to reform their pension schemes.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said ‘Nurses and Healthcare Assistants are the lifeblood of the NHS, and they are angry.‘Their pensions have already been reformed, and are far from generous. Targeting them now is unjust and unnecessary.‘The average woman with an NHS pension takes home less than £4000 a year – not exactly gold plated.‘Council has decided that the RCN will support colleagues on the 30th of November to express their anger. The RCN will be ready to ballot if this anger is not heard as we approach the end of the negotiations.’Even doctors are threatening to abandon patients and join the picket line if the Government does not revise its pension reforms.The British Medical Association has refused to rule out industrial action of ‘some kind’ in the future.

The NHS is the lifeblood for many in our society. In a time when Governments are at fault they wish to defeat those who try in society the most with unimaginative money-saving measures. In a country where we work the longest hours in Europe with the least amount of holidays its it really too much to expect some sort of fairness, for the pensions that were signed up to stand rather than have their goalposts moved by Etonians politicians with no care for financial stability but only that they themself thrive.

Politics should not be a rich mans pastime. It should be for the people,by the people. Not a representation of a minority,and that is quite what it has become. The Government, and those who run the country are showing quite simply a disregard for their citizens. The very people that we relay on day-to-day to work longer than their contracted hours on an already sinking ship. Underfunded, understaffed in a so-called powerful developed nation.

To threaten them with their positions, 700’000 strong on the basis that it would offend their Charter. If only they had signed up to their charter and included that their fundamental rights and the fundamental principles of what they originated would also remain strong as their vigour to help the needy in our society. You cannot take away without expecting some for of repercussion from a body of educated men and women who strive to perform on a daily basis, 24/7, 365 days of the year!

I advocate Strike action by Nurses, i would love a body of real power to stand up to the unfair public sector reforms that threaten the lifeblood of a  nation. I promise this, to threaten the lifeblood of the NHS will cease the heartbeat that keeps this country running at a time when they NHS is far from in needy decline. An NHS under pressure due to a huge increase in Heart Disease brought on by unhealthy and difficult working and living conditions already in place. Where we suffer more cancers due to our environmental living conditions. Stress through our overly demanding working conditions. These people strive to improve our quality of life, day in day out and now the politicians want to harm THEIR quality of life also, with draconian and  unimaginative measures on debt control.

Perhaps a harder stance on bankers and large corporations, expenses and political scandal would go a large way to solving our current issues, but of course that would only offend the Etonian spirit.

The country is a disaster, from top to bottom. We hurt those who try, support those that don’t and disregard those that cannot. We punish our people when they should be reaping the rewards of their efforts in a country that should be standing tall but cannot, because it is crippled by hypocrisy and corruption.

We are a poor nation, poor in spirit,poor in rationale and now poor-er in health.

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