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Now midwives are on the brink of striking in row over pay

  • The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is set to ballot 50,000 midwives on strikes
  • The union is urging its members in England and Wales to vote in favour of action
  • The RCM has said no action would be taken that puts mothers and babies at risk

Midwives are being urged to strike over pay as the threat of a mass NHS walk-out inches closer.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) today announced that it will ballot its 50,000 members next month over whether to take industrial action.

The union is urging its members in England and Wales to support the strikes, saying they feel ‘undervalued’, ‘underpaid’ and are ‘angry that the Government has not listened to them’.

All midwives and maternity support workers employed in the NHS who are members of the RCM are eligible to vote in the four-week ballot.

The RCM has said no action would be taken that puts mothers and babies at risk, insisting that safe services would be maintained.

It comes after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) yesterday urged its members to back a historic strike over pay and conditions, dick enlarger pills for the first time in its 106-year history.

Junior doctors, physiotherapists and GPs are all also contemplating industrial action.

The RCM has not set out how much of a pay rise it is seeking.

But the RCN wants a 17 per cent pay uplift for nurses — which, in theory, would cost an extra £4,750 per nurse, a colossal £1.4billion in total.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) today announced that it will ballot its 50,000 members from November 11 on whether to take industrial action 

Nurses

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is urging its 300,000-plus members to vote in favour of strike action when ballots open next month.

Doctors 

The chair of the British Medical Association has warned strike action is ‘inevitable’.

It could see 160,000 doctors, consultants and GPs walk out.

Midwives

The Royal College of Midwives will put putting industrial action to a vote to its 50,000 members.

Two-thirds have already said they would be willing to strike in a preliminary poll. 

Physiotherapists 

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) said more than eight in 10 of its 60,000 members are prepared to strike.

Members will be balloted for the first time in the CSP’s 100-year history over pay.

Newly-qualified midwives are paid £25,600 per year, on average, while longer-serving staff members can receive up to £39,000.

Managers receive between £40,000 and £46,000, while consultants – the most senior midwives – get up to £75,000.

The ballot comes after a consultation, which involved two thirds of eligible members in England and 80 per cent in Wales.

Results showed that three-quarters wanted to be balloted on strike action.

A ballot is already under way in Scotland.

Dr Suzanne Tyler, executive director of the RCM, said: ‘Midwives have only taken strike action once in 140 years. This is not something they take lightly.

‘The RCM has already called on the new Prime Minster to keep her promises and “deliver on the National Health Service”.

‘One way to do that is to ensure staff are valued and paid fairly for what they do. It unfortunately appears they aren’t willing to listen or even acknowledge the workforce crisis engulfing our NHS.

‘Our members are sending a very clear message to the governments in England and Wales and one that must not be ignored any longer.

‘We have previously warned NHS leaders and Governments in England and Wales that staff were at breaking point and a below inflation pay award would see midwives heading for the door.’

She added: ‘Our members feel undervalued, underpaid, and are now angry that the Government has not listened to them.

‘Many are struggling with the rising cost of living and deeply worried about the future.

The Royal College of Nurses wants nurses to get a pay rise 5 per cent above inflation, far above the around 4 per cent being offered by No10

The latest NHS data recorded that about 45,000 nursing posts in England are vacant as of the end of June. London has highest percentage missing, with 15 per cent of nursing posts unfilled

NHS data shows efforts to get more nurses into the health service are only barely keeping pace with the number of experienced nurses quitting

HISTORY OF NHS STRIKES 

Nurses Strike Over Pay 1988

Around 2,500 nurses across the UK took part in a day of industrial action in protest against their pay in January 1988, backed by other NHS medics.

Nurses were offered a three per cent pay rise, while national wage increases were set to be scrapped in favour of regional packages, under Government plans. 

Health bosses said just two per cent of the country’s nurses took part and 200 operations were cancelled. 

Doctors Pension Strike 2012

Some 100,000 NHS workers took part in strike action in May 2012 in protest against pension reforms.

It came after 94 per cent of Unite union members rejected the Government’s final pension offer. 

The union argued the contract would see nurses work until they were 65-years-old and pay an extra £30 contribution per month.

Health bosses estimated 30,000 operations were cancelled, more than 1million GP appointments were delayed and 200,000 outpatient consultations were rescheduled.

Junior Doctors Strike 2016

Junior doctors in England went on strike for one day per month in the first four months of 2016 to protest against changes to their contracts.

In November 2015, almost all of the medics – 98 per cent – voted in favour of industrial action.

On the four strike days – January 12, February 10, March 9 and April 27 – junior doctors refused to provide routine care. Hospitals cancelled 300,000 outpatient appointments in response.

On the final strike day junior doctors also refused to provide emergency care. 

‘For midwives to consider taking industrial action it is really the last straw, but they feel they have no other option.’

Health workers in other trade unions are also being balloted for industrial action over pay.

The Government has offered to increase this by £1,400, a rise of around four per cent for the average member of the NHS.

If midwives voted in favour of industrial action, members might not attend work on the days of the strike.

Like other workers, maternity staff can’t legally be sacked if they participate in official and lawful industrial action.

However, unlike other sectors, some staff will continue to work. 

This is carefully negotiated with NHS bosses before the strike takes place to ensure patient safety. 

It comes after a mother yesterday claimed that she had to give birth on her sofa because her local hospital was too full.

Eilish McKinney, of Nassington, Northamptonshire, had planned to go to an NHS facility in Peterborough when her waters broke on September 20.

But she and her fiance Tom Blackman, a commercial sales associate, were told its maternity unit was full when they phoned Peterborough City Hospital.

They were instructed to make an hour-long journey to another hospital but decided to go for an impromptu home birth without the help of a midwife or drugs. 

Despite the ‘sheer panic’ of the situation, their son was born safely.

The NHS is in the midst of a midwifery crisis, with nearly 300 more staff leaving the health service than joined it last year, latest statistics show.

If midwives backed strikes, it would follow the summer of discontent that has already seen rail staff, barristers and rubbish collectors striking across the nation over pay disputes, amid spiralling energy bills and inflation.

Health workers in other trade unions are also being balloted for industrial action over pay.

The British Medical Association, a union representing 160,000 GPs, consultants, and junior doctors, has warned industrial action is ‘inevitable’.

It is set to poll of junior doctors — who are demanding a 26 per cent pay rise — and potentially other medical groups in the near future.

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