Nurses working at Watford General Hospital are “distressed and having a complete breakdown” - and planning on voting yes to strike action.

The comments come only days before the Royal College of Nursing will send ballot papers to nurses across England asking if they want to take industrial action or not.  

The threat of strike action is in response to poor pay and low staffing numbers nationwide affecting patient safety, the RCN said.

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The union says Watford General Hospital is no worse than other hospitals in the country, but senior officer for Hertfordshire Tony Durcan said he has heard first-hand the issues nurses in Watford are facing.

He said: “A lot of nurses are very angry. It is not only about pay, but also about safe staffing.

“Nurses at Watford, Hemel and St Albans have declared to us that they will be voting yes for strike action."

Mr Durcan said the RCN had made a "clear recommendation" to support industrial action. 

He added: “We regularly get phone calls from nurses distressed and having a complete breakdown.

“They are fed up and angry. They are emotional and talking about leaving the profession.

“Everywhere they turn is chaos and all they see is vulnerable people that need care.

“Watford is no different from any other place.”

Mr Durcan, who has worked as a nurse for 30 years, explained that nurses are struggling so much that they are having to use the food bank provided by the hospital.

He added: “They do not have enough money and struggle to live in Watford, which means they live further out but must then spend on commuting.

“They are having to make choices between, ‘do I keep my children warm, or do I feed them?’.

“Nurses are clamouring for more shifts because the need the money.”

Mr Durcan said that if a strike does take place, measures will be introduced to protect patients.

For it to go ahead the RCN needs 50 per cent of its members to take part in the vote and a minimum of 40 per cent of those votes must be in favour.

Nurses will be balloted from October 6 to the end of the month, with ballot papers counted from November 2.  

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