Nurses and healthcare assistants gather in Norwich for vigil to highlight growing anger on pay cap
Nurses and healthcare assistants from across Norfolk gathered for a candlelit vigil to highlight growing anger about the cap on nursing pay which they say is threatening the NHS workforce.
The gathering, at the Edith Cavell Memorial in Norwich, took place at 10pm to show that at a time when most people are winding down for the night, a quiet army of nursing staff are heading to work to keep health services afloat 24 hours a day.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said at the same time many nurses and healthcare assistants are struggling to make ends meet, some are forced to take on second jobs or even use foodbanks due to the 1pc cap on pay which has been in place since 2010.
The RCN is now embarking on a 'summer of protest' to tell the Government that this situation cannot continue and pay must increase, otherwise staff will be forced out of a profession already struggling to fill vacancies.
The Norwich vigil, and other events across the Eastern region and UK, will highlight the RCN's call for the Government to scrap the 1% cap ahead of a potential ballot of members to take industrial action.
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Adrian Ing, Royal College of Nursing's senior officer for Norfolk, said: 'The two main issues for us are that we worry about recruitment and we are really concerned as to whether we will have enough nurses in the future.
'We are particularly worried that the nursing bursary has been removed, so students wanting to become nurses have to fund themselves.'
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Mr Ing said it was becoming 'increasingly difficult' for people to enter the profession.
And he added: 'The point of tonight is to send a message out to the Government to say we want that cap lifted and to have a reasonable and sensible discussion about how nurses should be rewarded for the work they do.'
More than 20 nurses and healthcare assistants, all holding candles, turned up to the vigil in Norwich on Monday.
Paddy O'Luanaigh, deputy director of nursing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, echoed Mr Ing's concerns.
He said: 'As with everywhere in the UK, we are struggling with staffing and recruitment.
'We know that properly re sourced wards is how you deliver safe patient care.'