Nurses will strike for two days next month as the NHS pay row escalates


Nurses are set to go on strike for two days next month as the NHS pay dispute escalates.

The Royal College of Nursing has confirmed that its members will hold their first ever national walk on December 15-20.

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The RCN said the government rejected its offer of formal wage negotiations and that ministers had “chosen strike action instead”.

NHS trusts will now negotiate with staff over which community and hospital services will be carried out during the strike days. The RCN said it will announce next week which NHS employers are leaving.

The industrial action will take place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RCN has stopped announcing strike action in Scotland after the government reopened wage negotiations there.

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The RCN has said that despite a pay rise of around £1,400 granted over the summer, experienced nurses are 20 per cent worse off in real terms due to successive below-inflation pay since 2010.

Nurses are on strike on December 15 and 20

(TSTIME via Getty Images)

It comes as other health union workers vote on strike action, with a vote among hundreds of thousands of Unison members closing on Friday. A vote of Unite’s NHS members ends next week.

Midwives and physiotherapists are also voting on strikes, while a polling station for junior doctors will open in the new year.

Announcing the strike dates, RCN General Secretary and CEO Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt so unfair that they were going on strike for the first time.

“My offer for formal negotiations was rejected and the ministers have opted for strike action instead. They have the power and resources to stop this by opening serious talks about our dispute.

“Nursing staff is tired of being taken for granted, tired of low pay and unsafe staffing, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”

The RCN has not yet confirmed how many nurses will strike in the three countries and where.

NHS leaders speak with TSTIME raised the possibility of some trusts sharing nurses between hospitals on strike days to maintain staffing levels.

Hospitals will negotiate with union representatives on services where staff are exempt from strike action. It is expected that emergency care and emergency care will be maintained, but the trusts will move to a “bank holiday” staffing for other services.

If negotiations between the government and the RCN are not opened, further strike days could be held in January, the union said.

Matthew Taylor, CEO of the NHS Confederation, said: “Health leaders understand that this can be an uncertain time for many people, including those who routinely depend on the NHS, and that these strikes come ahead of what is usually the busiest time. of the year for the service.

“The expectation remains that urgent, urgent and critical care services will continue at a minimum on strike days and if there are any temporary changes to non-urgent aspects of care, such as check-ups and scheduled procedures, the NHS will ensure that this is communicated to patients in advance, where their safety is paramount at all times.

“Health leaders also sympathize with their workers who feel they have no choice but to strike, especially as most other unions are heading for the same outcome with their members.”

Pat Cullen, Head of the Royal College of Nurses


The RCN has said the economic case for paying nursing staff fairly is clear when billions of pounds are spent on agency workers to fill gaps in the workforce. It added that 25,000 nursing staff in the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register in the past year, with poor pay adding to the UK’s staff shortage, which it warned was affecting patient safety.

There are 47,000 unfilled registered nursing posts in the English NHS alone, the union said.

Commenting on the strike action, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I am immensely grateful for the hard work and dedication of nurses and deeply regret that some union members will take industrial action.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay praises nurses but rejects their requests

(PA wire)

“These are challenging times for everyone and the economic conditions mean that the RCN’s demands, which according to current figures are a 19.2 per cent wage increase, costing £10bn a year, are not affordable.

“Our priority is patient safety. The NHS has put in place proven plans to minimize disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.”

Meanwhile, Shadow Secretary Wes Streeting said patients affected by the strike “will never forgive the Conservatives for this negligence”.

He said: “Why on earth is the health minister refusing to negotiate with nurses? Patients can already not be treated in time, strikes are the last thing they need, and yet the government allows this to happen.

“First the government refused to talk to the health unions all summer, now they refuse to negotiate. If the Conservatives have given up governing, they must stand aside for Labour.”


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