Bury St Edmunds: Royal College of Nursing rally in Cornhill for greater staffing
Nursing union members took to the streets of Bury St Edmunds this week to demand the government addresses a national shortfall of 40,000 nurses.
Royal College of Nursing rallied outside Moyse's Hall Museum in Cornhill on Tuesday (September 17) to share their People's People campaign - which brings to light the understaffing of hospitals and health centres.
Bury shoppers were encouraged to sign a petition asking the government to invest in training and recruitment of nurses.
Heather Riggs, clinical nurse specialist at West Suffolk Hospital, was among the members from the union's East Anglia branch to gather in the town centre.
She said: "I am here to promote safer staffing levels and we want the government to take action.
"There is a real need nationally and locally for there to be more nurses."
The union say that 40,000 nurses are 'missing' in England.
In the east, the figure is around 4,000.
While the government has promised to recruit 53,000 more by the end of this year, Ms Riggs said this does not take into account those who will not make it through training and the nurses set to soon retire.
She continued: "I have been nursing since 1974 and I would encourage people into it.
"I have had a fantastic career.
"There has been stress because of staff shortages. But on the whole it has been wonderful."
Royal College of Nursing chose to rally in Bury as it is a town with political links and has a hospital.
Members pledged to keep on protesting until action is taken and say they have no target for their petition.
Ms Riggs said: "People have been really willing to sign it.
"Events like this are going on all over the country. We would like millions to sign it."
She added: "Our message is that you might not need a nurse today but you will need one at some point in your life.
"Nurses are there from first breath to last breath."
Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock was invited to the rally in Bury.
He said: “We have record numbers of nurses - and more nurses at the West Suffolk Hospital thanks to the brilliant work of the team there.”
To see or sigh the petition online, visit: www.rcn.org.uk/
The union is encouraging use of the hashtag #safestaffingsaveslives