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Nurses look set to strike, as RCN ballot count continues

Early indications suggest the majority of RCN members have voted for strike action over pay and patient safety, as government refuses to budge on real-terms pay cut

Early indications suggest the majority of RCN members have voted for strike action over pay and patient safety, as government refuses to budge on real-terms pay cut

Nurses across the UK look set to strike over pay in what would be the biggest nursing strike in NHS history.

The RCN’s largest-ever strike ballot, involving more than 300,000 members, closed on 2 November and early indications show strong support for action.

‘Members have spoken clearly’: strike action expected as ballots counted

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen tweeted on 5 November that she was confident about the results and members had spoken clearly.

Early indications suggest the majority of RCN members have voted for strike action over pay and patient safety, as government refuses to budge on real-terms pay cut

Agreed strike action will be a collective call for a fair pay offer Picture: David Gee

Nurses across the UK look set to strike over pay in what would be the biggest nursing strike in NHS history.

The RCN’s largest-ever strike ballot, involving more than 300,000 members, closed on 2 November and early indications show strong support for action.

‘Members have spoken clearly’: strike action expected as ballots counted

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen tweeted on 5 November that she was confident about the results and members had spoken clearly.

Although counting is still under way, it is understood that RCN officials believe enough members have voted for industrial action, which could take place before Christmas. A spokesperson said the college is likely to announce the results later this week.

The scope of industrial action is yet to be determined, and only staff in areas where at least 50% of eligible members took part in the ballot will be legally permitted to strike.

In the event of action, patients will likely face disruption to non-urgent operations and appointments as nurses join picket lines across the UK. Emergency care will not be affected.

In July, health and social care secretary Steve Barclay, who was recently reappointed to the role by prime minister Rishi Sunak, oversaw a pay offer of £1,400 – or 4% – for nurses. The RCN has campaigned for a pay rise of 5% above inflation.

Real-terms pay cut exacerbates staffing crisis and affects patient safety, warns RCN

The RCN said the strike ballot is not just about a real-terms pay cut for thousands of skilled nurses – staff are also concerned about patient safety as they continue to work with huge staff shortages.

Ms Cullen said in a statement: ‘Patients are at great risk when there aren’t enough nurses. Huge numbers of staff – both experienced and newer recruits – are deciding they cannot see a future in a nursing profession that is not valued nor treated fairly.’

The government continues to urge nurses to ‘resist going on strike’. Cabinet office minister Oliver Dowden told Sophy Ridge on the Sky News Sunday programme: ‘We have well-oiled contingencies in place and the Department of Health is across how we would deal with a scenario like this should it arise. I would continue to urge nurses and others to resist going out on strike even if they have voted to do so. We have already agreed quite considerable support for nurses.’

An RCN spokesperson said: ‘Cutting nurses’ wages by 20% since 2010 is the opposite of providing “considerable support” for nurses and the cabinet office minister shouldn’t insult our members by pretending it is. The minister appears in denial about both the anger of nursing staff and the public support we have.’


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