14/05/2017 13:11 BST | Updated 14/05/2017 13:11 BST

A Summer Of Discontent

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Everyone has their limits. For years nursing pay has fallen behind inflation and for years nurses have been understanding. But it's time the NHS stopped relying on their staff's goodwill.

Because these haven't just been years of pay restraint. They've been years of nurses struggling to support themselves and their families, nurses having to apply for hardship grants to pay their rent - nurses heading to foodbanks just to feed their children. And we've realised that enough is enough.

When the Government decided yet again to keep the 1% pay cap on nursing pay this year, it was a step too far - and our members wanted action. To find out just what form this action should take, we went straight to the source - to the NHS nurses themselves.

More than 50,000 came back to us and their voice was loud and clear. For the first time in the RCN's history - nurses want to strike. Almost four out five nurses (78%) voted to take strike action and even more (91%) would be prepared to take industrial action short of a strike.

Nursing staff have yet to take to such action because of concerns around patient care and safety. However it is those very concerns that are now taking our focus towards industrial action. The current conditions are driving people out of the profession and putting new people off joining - and patients simply won't get the care they deserve from a workforce that is short on numbers and low on morale. Something needs to be done.

So what will that be? This vote showed just how strongly nurses feel about this and we need to respond with equal strength.

This summer we will be supporting our members to hold protests around the UK. By mobilising the 50,000 members who took part, we aim to engage each and every NHS nurse in our battle for fair pay. Every one of them has been devalued by this pay restraint - every one should be involved. It's time we showed what we're made of.

And if the Government continues to refuse to pay nurses what they deserve, we'll push back even harder. Because if they fail yet again to save the nursing workforce and protect patient care, we will be going ahead with our strike ballot.

The NHS needs a strong and effective workforce if it is to meet the growing demands of our nation. The pay cap will only weaken our nursing staff - but a rise in line with inflation could instigate a wealth of advantages for staff and patients alike.

We believe in the NHS and we believe in patients. And we won't stop fighting for them.