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Nurses vote to strike

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By Christie Breen
Annan and Eskdale
Nurses vote to strike
STRIKE SUPPORT . . . RCN reps for Dumfries and Galloway, left to right: Sandra Milne, Evan Keir and Vicky Keir

NURSES and healthcare workers in Dumfries and Galloway voted ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of strike action.

Ninety per cent of Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members in the region came out in favour of industrial action.

And now hundreds could go on strike before Christmas.

Vicky Keir from Annan is one of three regional RCN stewards for the nursing union and is both pleased and saddened by the results.

She says nurses feel ‘enough is enough’, adding: “We’re really glad we’ve managed to get the numbers and managed to get the mandate for industrial action, but it’s a really sad point for people, we’re sad that we’ve been pushed to the point where we have to take industrial action in order to get a fair pay award.

“Public support for nursing is strong and their support for us taking action is growing. The public know that nurses are their greatest champion. If you do the right thing for nurses, you do the right thing for patients.”

The RCN now has a mandate for industrial action in every health board and NHS employer in Scotland. Details are still being decided but the union has confirmed there is a very real possibility that staff will be on strike before Christmas.

Asked about the strike’s impact on patients, Vicky explained: “The way we’ll be doing the strike is similar to a Christmas Day model, everything that carries on on Christmas Day will go on. So, departments like critical care and A and E will see little difference, but outpatient appointments and anything that is deemed to be routine is likely to be affected.”

In response to the results of the strike ballot, a spokesperson for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway is aware of the ballots taking place among unions representing staff who work in a wide range of roles within healthcare.

“By its nature, industrial action has the potential to be disruptive – and consideration has been given locally to the potential for industrial action to be called at any time by one or more unions, with receipt of 14 days’ notice.

“In these circumstances, we would work closely with staff side representatives towards the intent that essential and urgent services continue to be delivered safely.”

This is a historic ballot as it is the first time in the 106 year history of the RCN that all members across the UK were balloted for strike action.

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