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If we do not stand up for ourselves, how can we battle for our patients? Your readers panel, ‘To protest or not to protest’ (Reflections April 2), asked four panellists if they would consider taking industrial action over the government’s refusal to give all nurses and midwives a 1 per cent pay rise. Despite being angry and frustrated by the government’s position on nurses’ pay, three of the four panellists said they would not take industrial action or go on strike over pay. If this is along the lines of what most nurses are thinking, health secretary Jeremy Hunt will be punching the air with glee. But it leaves me sick with dismay. I am saddened that there is no clear rallying cry for nurses to stand up to Mr Hunt. I marched alongside non-RCN nurses striking for better pay and conditions in the 1980s. As an RCN member, I joined the strikers on my days off. Ordinary people recognised the legitimacy of our fight and were hugely supportive. As a result, we won that battle. I do not buy the mantra of ‘patients will be harmed if we go on strike’. If we are not prepared now to fight the just cause for ourselves and our colleagues, how can we battle for our patients? Nurse leaders should show the way. This is the time for bold and decisive action. Zeba Arif, by email

The independent watchdog on MPs’ pay has put forward a package of proposals for a pay rise of 11 per cent after next year’s general election. It wants to increase the basic salary for MPs to £76,000. The proposals also involve revised pensions and expenses arrangements. Most nurses have been denied this year’s 1 per cent increase recommended by the pay review body. How can the government say we are asking for too much, especially as we do not get the perks of generous expenses allowances? Theresa Brennan, by email

MPS AND NURSES BOTH SERVE THE PUBLIC – SO PAY THEM THE SAME Nurses’ pay and conditions should be on a par with those of MPs in Westminster. I believe this would be fair, as we nurses and MPs serve the public, work long and unsocial hours, have a great deal of responsibility and need decent salaries to ensure that the right calibre of person is in place. 32 april 16 :: vol 28 no 33 :: 2014

on what action to take in response to the derisory pay award and our appetite for industrial action and workplace demonstrations. Nurses due to receive salary increment payments will be asked if they are prepared to sacrifice them in return for every NHS nurse in England receiving a 1 per cent pay rise. Personally, I do not see the logic of this. But I may be in the minority. May I suggest that health workers get the 11 per cent pay rise that is being offered to MPs, and that MPs get the 1 per cent pay increase the pay review body recommended for nurses. Rav Kennedy, by email

SIGN THE E-PETITION AND RESPOND TO THE RCN CONSULTATION ON PAY Thank you for setting up a petition to urge the government to reconsider its decision on nurses’ pay (News April 9). I have done my bit and signed it (tinyurl.com/pay-petition). I also urge everyone to respond to the RCN consultation on pay that runs until April 30. It will gauge our views

LOSS OF NHS DIRECT WILL PILE MORE PRESSURE ON HEALTH SERVICES With very little fanfare, NHS Direct closed on March 31. I agree with Belinda Whitehead (Letters April 2) that the loss of its services will be felt by patients, as well as the wider NHS. NHS Direct offered a good service for a number of years, with qualified


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If we do not stand up for ourselves, how can we battle for our patients?

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