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

Nurses in England take part in fifth round of industrial action today as their fight for fairer pay and working conditions continues
Striking nurses on the picket line with placards for fair pay at the University Hospital of North Durham

Nurses in England take part in fifth round of industrial action today as their fight for fairer pay and working conditions continues

Striking nurses on the picket line with placards for fair pay at the University Hospital of North Durham
Striking nurses on the picket line with placards for fair pay
at the University Hospital of North Durham​ Picture: John Houlihan

Nurses in England are taking to the picket lines today for the fifth time, alongside colleagues in the ambulance service.

RCN members will walk out at 73 NHS trusts across England after a continued refusal by the government to negotiate on pay.

Strikes in Wales were due to go ahead today and tomorrow but were cancelled after last-ditch talks with the Welsh Government resulted in a new pay offer for nurses.

See all our coverage on the RCN strikes here.

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Public show solidarity with cheers… and fish and chips

As the fifth day of nurses’ strikes across England comes to a close, we leave you with messages of support.

Deliveries of fish and chips, pizza and Greggs biscuits are among ways the public have shown solidarity with striking nurses today.

Drivers have been honking their horns, passers-by cheering, and many tweeting their messages of support.

Actor Adam Frith wrote his message while he was with a dying relative ‘utterly dependent on nurses’. He urged prime minister Rishi Sunak and health secretrary Steve Barclay to open pay negotiations with unions.

Meanwhile, a former nurse said she left the profession because of burnout and working 14-hour shifts without any support.

And Green Party MP Caroline Lucas highlighted nurses struggles in her Brighton constituency, adding she was ‘proud to stand in solidarity’ with them.


Pat Cullen says the ‘resilience of our nursing staff shows no bounds’

Pat Cullen joined nurses on the picket lines across London as she told members at Great Ormond Street, St Mary’s Hospital and Guy’s Hospital they were keeping her uplifted.

Earlier she had accused the government of punishing its own nursing staff by refusing to talk about pay.

Meanwhile, University College London Hospital (UCLH) had arguably the most energetic picket line in the city, with a video of RCN rep Bert rallying the crowds with his dancing spirit.

Another video, shared by TV presenter Dr Chris van Tulleken, showed a huge picket line outside UCLH where RCN members, including one dressed as Florence Nightingale, chanted ‘Nurses aren’t just for COVID, they’re for life.’

Outside King’s College Hospital in London, dozens of members gathered on the picket lines with homemade signs demanding better working conditions and better pay.

One sign featured Bluey, from the popular Australian children’s cartoon, who demanded ‘Please give our nurses more dollarydoos. Thank you!’


Nurses are the engine of the NHS, say strikers in the north west

‘Nurses are the engine of the NHS’ – that is the message from nursing staff in the north west today.

Those on picket lines in the Wirral held signs reading ‘NHS hero, purses zero’ while they danced to the Strawbs’ Part of the Union.

Meanwhile, support is strong as the sun shines down on Arrowe Park Hospital in Birkenead, with staff’s energy levels boosted by musical entertainment drivers honking.

Tiny strikers are also spotted on a picket line with their mother, while nurses gather in their droves at hospitals in Liverpool.


Watch out Mr Bark-lay... nurses' furry friends are back on the picket lines

Our furry friends are back out on picket lines today, calling on Mr Bark-lay to give nurses and NHS staff a fair pay rise.

One good boy sniffed out that the strikes are ‘not about the income, it’s about the outcome’.

Others took the lead on holding signs supporting nurses, wagging their tales all the way.

One thing is for certain, they take their job as picket supervisors very seriously.


Strikers point the giant finger of blame

Nurses in south west England say the dispute is the ‘final straw’… and deployed props in the form of a giant stripey straw and foam finger to make their point.

Gathered outside Dorset County Hospital union members, said they are striking for better pay and better working conditions.

Meanwhile, in Bournemouth, RCN congress chair BJ Waltho posted a video of a long line of picketers outside the Royal Bournemouth Hospital waving signs including ‘Enough is enough,’ and ‘fund the NHS not war’, ‘Honk to support fair pay in the NHS and ‘NHS hero but my bank account is at zero.’

Nurses in Southampton channelled the spirit of Ru Paul’s Drag Race and said that 3% pay could ‘sashay away’.

Senior healthcare assistant Jo, who works at University Hospitals Southampton, said in a video that ‘we are all part of the nursing family and we should all represent each other and support each other in what we do.

‘We just want to remind everyone this is not just about pay for registered nurses, but for senior healthcare assistants, healthcare assistants across the board. We are one nursing family.’


Witty barbs and cartoon characters feature in nurses' placards

From supermarket witticisms to cartoon puns, nursing staff are getting creative with the messages they want to send the government.

Holding up homemade signs at picket lines across England, one reads: ‘Nobody is allowed to sh*t on us except our patients’.

Two paediatric nurses in Southampton held up signs featuring Disney princess cartoon villains and the loveable yellow minions from Despicable Me.

Another sign shows a brick wall behind a painted door resembling 10 Downing Street with the words ‘Our door is open’ in a jibe at minsters’ refusal to come to the table for pay talks.

Why aren’t nurses striking in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Nurses in the other nations of the UK are not striking today as the RCN considers its next step.

Strikes in Wales were called off last week after last-ditch talks between unions and the government resulted in a 3% pay offer, on top of the 4% already on the table. RCN members will now vote on the offer.

Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan told the PA news agency she hoped unions accepted the new offer: ‘I think what’s important is that they understand that this is the only deal in town.’

In Scotland strikes were averted yet again after the Scottish Government put forward a road map to resolving the dispute.

This included a proposal to accelerate the 2023-24 pay offer, a one-off payment equivalent to three months’ value between the 2022-23 and 2023-24 agreed pay rates, and a commitment to match any NHS pay increase in England next year if it is higher than the rate agreed in Scotland.

It remains the only country in the UK to have avoided strike action by nurses.

In Northern Ireland nurses have rejected the 4% pay deal offered to those on Agenda for Change contracts. They staged industrial action in December and today RCN Northern Ireland confirmed further strike action ‘cannot be ruled out’.


We’re in turmoil – nurses’ serious message as chants keep their spirits up

Picket at University Hospital of North Durham​ Picture: John Houlihan

Nurses in the north of England are ‘in turmoil’, they said speaking from a picket line in Cumbria.

Nurse Jan said: ‘I’m here today to get our voices heard. The difficulty is that we go to work, and we’re constantly faced with the turmoil of helping someone eat their lunch or taking them to the toilet.’

And there were chants of ‘What do we want? Fair pay. When do we want it? Right now,’ outside South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and nurses on the picket line at University Hospital of North Durham are keeping warm – and their spirits up – by dancing to Avicii's Wake Me Up.

No shortage of refreshments for striking nurses outside Newcastle Royal Infirmary Picture: John Houlihan


East Midlands firefighters join nurses as they 'stand in solidarity'

East Midlands firefighters have come out in support of nurses on the picket lines, saying they ‘stand in solidarity.’

Displaying a banner with the words ‘Claps don’t pay our bills,’ members of the Fire Brigades Union joined nurses outside the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Paramedics and nurses also joined together on a picket line outside Beechdale ambulance station oin Nottingham in a historical first, as members of the RCN and GMB unions stand together to take industrial action over pay and safe staffing.

East Midland RCN organiser Sarah Leigh Barnett tweeted prime minster Rishi Sunak from the picket line calling for ‘serious talks’ with the union.


Health minister draws fire for inaccurate claims over pay

Health minister Maria Caulfield has been called out for misleading the public with claims that unions accepted the pay recommendations made by the NHS Pay Review Body.

Speaking to TalkTV this morning she said: ‘The unions did agree the independent pay review’s recommendations of 4.5% for most nurses, nearly 8.9% for newly qualified nurses.

We would urge them, as they’ve done in Scotland where they are negotiating on next year’s pay settlement, to get back round the table and call the strikes off.’

Later on Times Radio, she said RCN general secretary Pat Cullen should ‘offer the same courtesy to England as the RCN are doing to Scotland, to call off the strikes’.

She then inaccurately claimed that the Scottish Government had not negotiated on last year’s pay deal. Nurses in Scotland are not striking after the government came to the table with a revised offer.

The NHS pay offer announced in July last year has never been accepted by the RCN.

People have criticised Ms Caulfield, saying the situation is not the same in England and Scotland, as the Conservative government has refused to negotiate.


Picket lines in high spirits despite plunging temperatures

Nurses’ spirits are high this morning despite temperatures plummeting as they began a fifth round of industrial action.
There are chants of ‘Nurses just wanna have fair pay’ to the tune of Robert Hazard and Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ at the University College Hospital picket line in London, while those in Harefield proclaimed ‘enough is enough’.

Pat Cullen says her thoughts are with nurses as they take to picket lines for 5th day

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