NHS nurses vote to strike on 15 and 20 December
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has agreed to strike on 15 and 20 December in a continuing pay dispute with the government. The RCN says it was given no choice after ministers blocked further talks about a pay rise. Emergency care will still be provided, however.
Under trade union laws, the RCN had to ensure life-saving care was provided during the strikes, meaning some urgent care services, urgent tests and scans and ongoing care for vulnerable patients were protected, alongside A&E and intensive care.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said, “Ministers have chosen strike action. Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”
The RCN asked for a 19% pay rise – 5% above the RPI inflation rate,
which currently stands at above 14%. Nurses at more that 40% of England’s hospitals and mental health and community services were not entitled to strike due to a low turnout for voting. The NHS Trusts and boards that were eligible to strike, however, only found out when the official notices went out regarding whether they would see walkout on the two dates, or dates in the new year.
England’s Health Secretary Steve Barclay has highlighted that the Government met the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Board when they gave an estimated 4% pay award. This was followed by a 3% pay rise last year in recognition of the work done during the pandemic.
Other major health unions, including the Royal College of Midwives, GMB and Unite, have started balloting members.