THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF NURSING (RCN) launched a nationwide public advertising campaign on 7 September, to coincide with the new Prime Minister’s first full day in office.

The College, which opens a strike ballot of 300,000 nursing staff next week, placed adverts in the Westminster area in Underground stations and on billboards, to coincide with Liz Truss’s first Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons.

The adverts pose questions from nursing staff to the new PM. One reminds Truss of her campaign admission that “hospitals are falling apart” and highlights last week’s new record 47,000 unfilled nurse posts in England, before asking the new Prime Minister: ‘What’s your plan?’

A second addresses the ambulance crisis and high levels of patient demand on health and care services and refers explicitly to next week’s RCN strike ballot, asking the new PM to demonstrate she is listening.

In the rest of the UK, a thousand bus stops will display separate adverts for several weeks, focusing on the impact of unfair NHS pay on nursing staff.

One says: “A cost of living crisis and a decade of pay cuts has pushed nursing staff to use foodbanks and even sleep in their cars. We demand change.” Another draws on academic research on patient mortality and staffing levels in hospitals, arguing “Fact: when there aren’t enough nurses, the risk of death increases. Back a pay rise for patient safety.”

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said: “From her first moment at the Despatch Box, the new Prime Minister can demonstrate she is listening to the concerns of nursing staff.

“The toughest questions facing Liz Truss will come from our members and millions of health and care workers like them. They are struggling – at home and work – like never before. And deserve serious answers, not brushing aside. MPs travelling to Westminster today will know what nursing staff expect them to ask.

“In just under a week, we will post strike ballot papers to 300,000 nursing staff across the UK. After many years of underinvestment, and in the face of a nursing workforce crisis that is undermining safe care and causing incredible financial hardship, nursing professionals are standing up for patients and themselves. Until the new Prime Minister puts forward a fair and adequate proposal, I will continue asking nursing staff to take strike action.”

* Source: Royal College of Nursing