The RCN has announced two strike days in December (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
NHS nurses will take part in their first strike before Christmas in a bid to demand better pay. They will still provide emergency care, but regular services will be affected.
For strike action to take place in England, Scotland and Wales, 50 per cent of eligible union members had to vote, and a majority then had to support union action.
The British Medical Journal reported that 102 of England’s 215 NHS trusts failed to meet the required 50 percent vote rate. In Scotland and Northern Ireland every NHS group will strike, and in Wales all but one of the health boards passed the threshold.
GP services remain unaffected, as nurses working in the practice are not entitled to participate in the vote.
Where are the strikes taking place?
The strike will affect at least 177 NHS trusts.
Affected hospitals in London include:
Imperial College Healthcare
Boys and St. Thomas’
Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital
Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare
St. George University Hospital
King’s College Hospital
Tavistock and Portman
University College London
When are they on strike?
At the time of writing, dates for the strike have been confirmed for December 15 and 20.
Why are the nurses on strike?
The payment is the biggest difficulty. Nurses are among a large group of public sector workers whose pay has not kept pace with inflation.
Under the NHS’s Agenda for Change contract, the government announced in July 2022 that more than one million staff, including nurses and paramedics, would receive a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, back to April 2022.
In addition, NHS staff will receive a three per cent pay rise in 2021.
The RCN did plead for “experienced nurses” [are] 20 percent worse in real terms than a decade ago” and the decline is driving people out of the profession and endangering patient safety.
London has the biggest shortage of nurses in the UK.
The RCN has proposed a pay raise of five percent above inflation (currently 11.1 percent), which will see nurses through the livelihood crisis and recognize their vital work.