By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Nurses are taking to the picket lines, again. On Sept 22, an estimated 23,000 nurses in California struck at Kaiser Permanente facilities and also at Sutter Health hospitals and Children’s Hospital Oakland. The one-day strike was organized by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) to protest what they say are unfair rollbacks to nurses’ health coverage and retirement benefits, and was also intended as a show of support for striking coworkers.

But it’s not just U.S. nurses who are engaging in job actions—for example, in the United Kingdom, the 400,000 member Royal College of Nursing is contemplating the first strike in its nearly 100-year history and is soliciting the views of its members as to what action should be taken. The issue is nurses’ pensions and job cuts—according to Nursing Standard, “almost 10,000 NHS

[National Health Service] posts in England alone have been earmarked for cuts.”

The poor economy is putting pressure on hospitals and health systems everywhere to reduce costs. One way to do this, of course, is to make cuts in what is traditionally the biggest expense in running the hospital—nursing. While this is a quick fix to the bottom line, it’s also one that doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, evidence shows that inadequate nurse staffing is linked to poor outcomes, which ultimately cost more in the long term—for the patients, for the health care system, and for nurses, who must deal with the burden of short staffing.

Let us know—how are things in your workplace?

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