The strike ballots are out
So the Royal College of Nursing is officially asking us if we want to strike! Like any trade union they will of course need a mandate to call for strike before actually physically asking us to do it so at the moment they are just getting responses I suppose.
I don't think I have ever been so conflicted in my life.
The very first day I put my staff nurse uniform on I made a promise to anyone who may find themselves in my care. I promised to look after them to the best of my ability, to keep them safe, to advocate for them, to keep my knowledge up to date, to prevent them from pain and to stop the doctors from killing them (that last one is just a bit of nurses humour!). I made this promise fully aware that the money in nursing was rubbish.
How can I keep my promise if I agree to strike? Who will look after my patients when I am not there?
However if things do not change in the NHS I will certainly struggle to keep my patients safe anyway.
The main cause of the proposed strike is pay, but really its about so much more than that. Low pay in nursing has thousands of nurses leaving the profession making wards so short staffed that it is unsafe. Morale is at an all time low and this definitely affects patient care. Thousands of potential nurses are put off from joining this wonderful profession because they know that the reality is that should they become a nurse, they will likely never afford to own a home, will be working pay day to pay day and may even need to use food banks, because that is the reality for many of us currently in the profession. I ask, who in their right mind would go to university for three years for that?
There are many other things that need fixed in the NHS believe me. Would it not breech my contract of employment and possibly violate the NMC code of conduct I would love to give you the list of things that need to change. I would love to tell you how I spent hours last night thinking about what a terrible nurse I had become, knowing that it was not by choice I became this way but because of the pressure and politics in the NHS. What I will tell you is that after just short of two years I am already considering leaving the NHS.
I do not want to strike because I honestly believe that it sort of goes against everything I signed up for but why should nurses always take the brunt of things? Junior doctors in England went on strike and although it really didn't change all that much, it let the public see what is really going on. People are on our side but the government wont listen. Nurses make up the biggest majority of people working in the NHS, surely they must listen to us??
I want to fight for change in the NHS, I want to fight to make it everything I thought it was when I signed up. I want to make patient care safer, working hours better, staff ratios safer. I want to mentor the future generation telling them that they are joining the best profession in the world, as I believed that I was just a few years ago. I no longer want to see doctors working nine 16 hour shifts in a row, knowing that they are so tired that I need to check their work twice to try and catch any of their sleep deprived mistakes (which to their credit, I rarely find).
However I don't know that I want to strike. Surely it goes against everything I signed up for, safe in the knowledge that my wages would be rubbish. I don't want to abandon my patients for the sake of me getting a better wage, it seems somehow selfish and that's not a good trait in a nurse.