Nurses across the UK will go on strike for the first time over two days in the fortnight before Christmas after ministers rejected their pleas for formal talks over NHS pay.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said its members would stage national strikes – the first in its 106-year history – on 15 and 20 December. Senior sources said the industrial action was expected to last for 12 hours on both days – most likely between 8am and 8pm.
The unprecedented national industrial action will seriously disrupt care and is likely to be the first in a series of strikes over the winter and into the spring by other NHS staff, including junior doctors and ambulance workers.
On Friday, RCN general secretary, Pat Cullen, said the UK government had chosen strikes over listening to nursing staff, adding: “If you turn your back on nurses, you turn your back on patients.”
The RCN said that despite a pay rise of about £1,400 awarded in the summer, experienced nurses were worse off by 20% in real terms due to successive below-inflation awards since 2010. It said the economic argument for paying nursing staff fairly was clear when billions of pounds were being spent on agency staff to plug workforce gaps.
It added that in the last year, 25,000 nursing staff around the UK had left the Nursing and Midwifery Council register, with poor pay contributing to staff shortages across the country, which it warned were affecting patient safety. There are 47,000 unfilled NHS registered nurse posts in England alone.
Source: The Guardian, 25 November 2022