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Nurses’ strike live: news and pictures from picket lines on day four

Nurses in England are back on the picket lines in a second consecutive day of strike action in their fight for fair pay and safe staffing levels
Nurses and their supporters marching to Downing Street

Nurses in England are back on the picket lines in a second consecutive day of strike action in their fight for fair pay and safe staffing levels

It’s been a busy few days on picket lines across England as nurses’ fight for better pay and working conditions continues.

While temperatures dropped and frost covered the ground, nurses’ resolve would not be hindered.

Nursing Standard heard incredible stories from nurses all around the country. In case you missed it, here’s our coverage:

Nurses in England are back on the picket lines in a second consecutive day of strike action in their fight for fair pay and safe staffing levels

Nurses and their supporters marching to Downing Street
Nurses and their supporters marching to Downing Street Picture: Alamy

It’s been a busy few days on picket lines across England as nurses’ fight for better pay and working conditions continues.

While temperatures dropped and frost covered the ground, nurses’ resolve would not be hindered.

Nursing Standard heard incredible stories from nurses all around the country. In case you missed it, here’s our coverage:

If you’d like to share your story with Nursing Standard, you can contact the news team at news@rcni.com or on Twitter @NurseStandard

Nurses on a picket line at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
Nurses on a picket line at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Picture: Alamy

5.36pm

Roundup of the best chants from the picket lines

Here’s a roundup of our favourite chants from the past two days of picketing.
These nurses in Faversham, Kent, chanted ‘We must strike to get care right’, echoing the sentiments of their colleagues around the country.

Nurses on the picket line at St George’s Hospital in London chanted '1,2,3,4 we won't take it anymore, 5,6,7,8 c'mon Rishi negotiate.’

A compilation by the RCN of inventive chants included ‘Hey Steve Barclay you’re no good, pay your nurses as you should’.

Finally, nurses on the picket line at St George’s Hospital in London chanted '1,2,3,4 we won't take it anymore, 5,6,7,8 c'mon Rishi negotiate.’


5.12pm

A resolute mood on the picket lines – and support for nurses couldn't be clearer

As a second consecutive day of nurses’ strikes draws to a close, we leave you with some pictures that sum up the atmosphere on the picket lines.

From pooches to colourful signs, the support for nurses over the past two days could not have been clearer.


Despairing voices from nurses’ picket line

‘I’m closer to quitting that I ever have been in my career.’

Those are the stark words from a nurse on a picket line outside St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London today.

And she wasn’t alone, many spoke of the toll working in the NHS is taking on their mental health. It’s becoming intolerable.

Read the full story here: Voices from nurses’ picket line: pressures driving us closer to quitting

3.45pm

Public shows support with hot sausage rolls

A delivery of Greggs sausage rolls, fresh fruit and a book of solidarity are just some of the way the public have shown support for nurses today. And when it’s this chilly outside who wouldn’t want a hot sausage roll?

Meanwhile, passers by have cheered, honked, joined in with chants and general made nurses feel valued and supported.

Other unions have also been clear in the message of support for nurses, with members of the RMT and Unite joining some picket lines.

Have you received a care package on your picket line? Tweet us @NurseStandard

Proposed pension changes are just ‘a sticking plaster’

Nursing Standard columnist Jane Bates has warned that improving pension conditions in a bid to entice retired nurses back to work is akin to ‘a sticking plaster on a broken leg’.

The proposed changes would allow staff to claim a portion of their pension benefits while continuing to work – but Ms Bates says these ‘few pennies’ would not be enough to tempt many retired nurses back while working conditions are dire.

You can read her full piece here: First aid won’t fix NHS: where are the serious staffing plans?

3:10pm

Santa, singing and a giant cardboard straw: nurses in the south west stand strong

There were plenty of chants on picket lines in the south west, as nurses staged another 12-hour walkout.

The message from RCN members at Callington Road Hospital in Bristol was clear: ‘1, 2, 3, 4, no one should live poor, 5, 6, 7, 8, sit down and negotiate.’

Nurses were in high spirits at Salisbury District Hospital’s picket lines, despite a frosty start to the day.

In Dorset, RCN members held up a giant cardboard straw with a sign reading ‘the last straw’, as nursing staff struggle to cope with the deepening NHS crisis and soaring living costs.

Santa Claus made a tardy but surprise visit to nurses at Dorset County Hospital, while children also joined in with strongly-worded signs. The Cartoon Action Theatre group also turned up singing ‘it’s time for justice for nurses’ pay’ to show their support.

Meanwhile, nurses on picket lines in Cornwall were lauded with sweet treats and support from the fire service, other unions and doctors from Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.

Nursing students in tears due to staffing pressures

Nursing students in Derbyshire have told how they finish shifts in floods of tears because of the staffing crisis.

Others said they felt like they were being pulled in different directions and it was impacting their ability to learn.

Speaking on the picket line at Ilkeston Community Hospital, Lorna Paterson – who will qualify on Friday – said many students in her cohort had dropped out of the adult nursing degree due to financial hardship and the overwhelming pressures of placements.

Read the full story by our reporter Alison Stacey here: Nursing students tell of shedding tears over staffing crisis


1.50pm

Picture: Alison Stacey

‘Claps don't pay vet bills’: more doggos on the picket line

Our furry friends are once again taking a stand with nurses in their fight for better pay and working conditions.

Spotted on various picket lines across the country, dogs too are braving the cold to bark loudly about safe staffing and fair pay.

Is there a dog on your picket line? We want to see them. Tweet your pictures to us @NurseStandard

Callie joins the picket line Picture: Andrea Downey

1.27pm

Near-record numbers of delayed discharges continue to impact NHS hospitals

Near-record numbers of delayed discharges continue to impact NHS hospitals in England.

The latest data show an average of 14,036 beds were taken up by patients who were fit to leave last week, down slightly from an all-time high of 14,069 the previous week.

The number stood at 12,498 this time last year. Patients are unable to leave hospital because of a lack of community and social care, the RCN said. The college warned that pressure on health and care ‘shows no sign of waning’ with hospitals ‘full to bursting’.

RCN director for England Patricia Marquis said: ‘This data shows exactly why nurses across the country are standing up for their patients and joining picket lines. The workforce crisis and nursing being underpaid has made care unsafe. The Prime Minister and his ministers need to recognise why nursing staff are standing out in the cold on picket lines. It is time they drop the tired rhetoric, do their jobs and negotiate with nurses.’


12.50pm

‘Come on Rishi, negotiate’

Striking nurses at St George’s Hospital in London Picture: Andrea Downey

St George's Hospital London

The message from nursing staff on the picket line at St George’s Hospital in London is bleak but clear – there are not enough staff for them to continue doing their jobs safely.

Nursing Standard news editor Andrea Downey spoke to nurses who told her experienced colleagues leaving because of poor pay, burnout and concerns over patient safety was making an already bad situation worse.

She described the atmosphere as energetic as staff chanted ‘1, 2, 3, 4, we can’t take it anymore, 5 ,6, 7, 8, come on Rishi, negotiate.’

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen also joined nurses at the hospital.

Full story to follow soon so keep checking back.


12.38pm

Nurses in north west brave chill and snow to turn out in droves

Nurses in the north west of England have turned out in droves to take a stand. Those on the picket line at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan moved to the rhythm of drums to ward off the chill, while nursing staff braved snowy conditions in Cheshire this morning.

Meanwhile, nurses in Lancashire were treated to doughnuts and hot drinks vouchers by a consultant who stood with them in solidarity.

Clinical research nurse Allan also kept striking staff fed with hot breakfast rolls.

Many drivers sounded their horns in support of striking staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Birkenhead, while nurses at the Victoria Infirmary in Northwich, Cheshire, also faced a chilly start.


11.20am

'We’ve had the door slammed in our faces by the government'

Nurses in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, have said the NHS is in a ‘terrible state’ because of a vicious cycle of nurses becoming increasingly burnt out and eventually having to go off sick, leaving departments even more short-staffed than usual.

Matt Tacey on the picket line in Chesterfield
Matthew Tacey on the picket line in Chesterfield Picture: John Houlihan

Reporter Alison Stacey is speaking to nurses in the area, who have told her they are worried about chronic understaffing and its impact on the profession.

One nurse, Matthew Tacey (pictured above), said: ‘It’s a sad day for nurses. They’re having to take drastic action because they’ve had the door slammed in their face by the government. That’s why they’re now on picket lines.’


10.05am

Many messages of encouragement from the public

Many members of the public have sent messages of encouragement to nurses on picket lines, with one woman saying: ‘Don’t give up. Keep going until you get your pay rise.’

The union Acorn asked people across the UK what they thought of nurses' action and found an overwhelming level of support.

Nurses are out in full force again today in freezing temperatures. RCN general secretary Pat Cullen joined nursing staff at University College Hospital in London, urging the government to ‘leave their warm offices and walk amongst these nurses’.

Meanwhile, nurses in the Isle of Wight and Cornwall looked cheery despite an early start, and kind-hearted members of the public brought striking staff hot coffees and breakfast in Morecambe Bay.


8.38am

Combined strike of nurses and ambulance crews raises ‘huge concern’ for health leaders

Health leaders have expressed ‘huge concern’ after it was announced that thousands of ambulance staff woud join nurses in a combined day of strike action next month.

Both professions are set to walk out of 6 February unless the government budges on this year’s pay deal. RCN members will also be taking industrial action on 7 February.

NHS Providers chief executive Saffron Cordery said: ‘The prospect of ambulance workers and nurses striking on the same day is a huge concern. Nobody in the NHS wants more strikes, including staff joining picket lines.

‘We need ministers to get round the table with the unions urgently to deal with the key issue of pay for this financial year, otherwise there is no light at the end of the tunnel.’

NHS Confederation chief executive Mathew Taylor said: ‘Leaders across the NHS are getting increasingly frustrated with the impasse we seem to have reached.

‘Our members want to see government come to the table with unions to engage meaningfully on pay so that this situation can be resolved.’


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