NURSES were back on the picket line outside the Dilke Hospital in Cinderford today (Tuesday).

They say they are fighting for more than just the headline issue of pay.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) voted for strike action for the first time in its 106-year history in a dispute with the government over a 19 per cent pay claim.

Deb Oliver, a ward sister at the Cinderford hospital, who was among the pickets yesterday (Tuesday) said: “It’s because of 12 years of NHS cuts and 10 years of no pay rise or very little pay rise.

“We are finding it difficult to attract nurses, particularly to community hospitals and there are retention issues so we are struggling.

“We making sure we have safe levels of staff on the ward, making sure our patients are safe.

“That is the reason we’re here, the safety of patients.”

She said there was strong support among staff and support from the public had been “phenomenal”.

Many drivers tooted their horns and waved in a gesture of support.

Ms Oliver added: “This isn’t just about nurses, it is also about other workers, many of whom are on minimum wage.”

The nurses at the Dilke were joined on the picket line by members of the Forest Samba Band.