Nurses may go on strike for six months if govt does not resolve pay dispute: Royal College of Nursing
Wednesday 21 December 2022 8:25 AM UTC
Solidarity with RCN Strike: Members of the Gloucestershire Malayalee Association on the picket lines in front of Gloucester Royal Hospital on Tuesday
LONDON Dec 21: Nurses could go on further strikes in January if the government does not change its approach to a row over pay, a union has warned as thousands stage their second walkout.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned that strikes could go on for six months unless an agreement can be reached with the government.
But, speaking on the picket line at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said industrial action can be brought to an end if the government moves on its current offer.
The government maintains that the pay rise demanded is unaffordable and said it will discuss other concerns, such as staffing and working conditions, but not pay.
Ms Cullen said she is “truly sorry” to every patient that has their care affected during the walk outs, as she urged the Rishi Sunak to “do the decent thing” and get round the table with them.
Prime Minister Sunak has not met any of the striking unions, said Downing Street, saying it was a matter for relevant secretaries of state.
In a last-minute intervention, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, has written to Mr Sunak requesting an end to the deadlock with unions, warning NHS leaders cannot keep patients safe during strikes and there is “deep worry”.
Thousands of nurses up and down the country joined the picket lines on Tuesday, with around a quarter of hospitals and community teams in England taking part, alongside all trusts in Northern Ireland and all but one health board in Wales.
Nine ambulance trusts are expected to be affected on the proposed ambulance strike days of 21 December and eight ambulance trusts are expected to be affected on 28 December. There are further ballots of other groups of NHS workers, with midwives announcing they have not reached the required threshold. Physiotherapists have announced their members support industrial action but have not yet announced what action they will take following this result.
But NHS England says emergency care will continue to be provided.
People are being asked to use services “wisely” and only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency – with 111 online the first port of call.