Nurses Vote to Strike Over Pay

Nurses are set to go on strike in the first industrial action in the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) history.

The RCN announced that its members would be walking out before the end of the year in a dispute over pay. The RCN will finalise dates and plans “shortly,” it said.

Voting on the strike was carried out by employer, rather than as a whole. This means not all hospitals and clinics in England will engage in industrial action. Staff at all NHS employers in Scotland and Northern Ireland and all except one in Wales voted to strike.

Emergency care will remain staffed during the action.

Why is the nurses’ strike happening?

The RCN has called for a pay rise of 5% above inflation. No UK country has offered staff an increase near that figure.

In England and Wales, NHS staff have been given an average rise of 4.75%. Meanwhile, in Scotland, NHS staff have received a £2,200 pay rise. Northern Ireland nursing staff have not yet received a pay rise.

The RCN said research it commissioned showed that nurses’ salaries have not kept up with inflation over the last decade.

According to the research, an experienced nurse’s salary has fallen by 20% in real terms since 2010.

The report said this is strongly associated with nurses leaving their jobs. According to the RCN, 25,000 nursing staff have left the Nursing and Midwifery Council in the last year.

RCN secretary general and chief executive Pat Cullen said: “Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough. The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.

“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this. While we plan our strike action, next week’s budget is the UK government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point.”

Potential impact of strikes on patient safety

Speaking about the strike’s potential impact on patient safety, First4Lawyers head of claims Jacqueline Busby said: “We hope that patients across the health service will continue to be seen and treated – particularly those presenting with emergencies and serious conditions.

“However, as with all industrial action, we expect some people to suffer as a result. The UK’s nurses worked heroically through the pandemic and are vital to the effective operation of the NHS. Without their expertise and dedication, those still working will come under increased pressure. This may result in patients seeing health conditions worsen and important surgeries delayed.

“This could cause some patients to turn to costly private healthcare. I would therefore advise anyone requiring medical treatment during the nursing strike to learn more about their rights and what they are entitled to. We should all expect a certain level of care and if that is not delivered, legal action could be the most effective option to right that wrong.

“It is possible to make a compensation claim for a delayed diagnosis or treatment, depending on circumstances. There is no cost for making such an enquiry so it is always worth finding out what your options are.”

If you have suffered from delayed diagnosis or treatment and had a health condition get worse, you could make a claim for compensation. To find out how we could help, just give us a call or start your claim online.


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