Nurses will start a series of strikes at dozens of hospitals in December, and will step up their industrial action if ministers continue to refuse to negotiate wages.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced today that up to 100,000 nurses will be out of work in many, but not all, hospitals and other NHS bodies where members have voted to stop working.
But the union made it clear that it would scale up its industrial action unless Steve Barclay, the health secretary, enters into detailed talks about his demand for an inflation plus 5% wage increase.
“The ministers rejected my offer of formal wage negotiations and instead went on strike. It has left us no choice but to announce where our members will strike in December,” said Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and CEO.
the stoppages December 15 and 20 Will severely disrupt care and services in 53 NHS organizations in England, around half of those where the recent RCN vote produced a majority of nurses in favor of retiring from their work. They will include major acute hospitals in cities across the country, including Bristol, Liverpool and Birmingham, as well as specialist cancer, children and surgical centers and a number of mental health care providers.
Nurses will also strike at 12 of the 13 boards of health and other National Health Service in Wales and at other organizations such as Cardiff University Hospital and the Welsh Ambulance Service headquarters. RCN members will stop working across all 11 NHS agencies in Northern Ireland, affecting activity levels on strike days at hospitals including City, Ulster and Royal Victoria hospitals in Belfast.
“For RCN to take industrial action on this scale is extraordinary and shows the strength of feeling within the profession,” said Professor Alison Leary, Chair of Healthcare and Workforce Modeling at London South Bank University. .
“The strike call is based on salary. Nurses have seen the value of their salary decrease significantly in the last ten years. However, much of the motivation around voting is lack of staff. Nurses are unable to provide the care they feel patients need and this causes them moral distress,” she added.
NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England, urged RCN and Barclay to start urgent talks to try to find a solution to avoid strikes.
“Everyone wants to avoid prolonged industrial action. We understand how strong nurses feel and why it has come to this, but the NHS is facing what may be the toughest winter on record, amid severe staff shortages and increasing demand for services. said Saffron Cordery, its interim CEO.
Two other key sanitation unions, Unison and GMB, will announce the results of their members’ vote on the strike in a few days. Both represent paramedics and other people who work in the NHS ambulance services. Hospital bosses are privately very concerned about the impact of the walkouts by ambulance staff, as the services can no longer answer 999 calls and get patients to hospital fast enough.
In response to RCN’s move, Barclay reiterated that “RCN’s demands, which according to current figures are a 19.2% pay increase, costing £10bn a year [for most NHS staff, not just nurses]They are not affordable.” She insisted that “my door is open” to speak with the RCN, but only about issues such as working conditions and how to address the backlog of care, rather than payment.