The 15th and 20th of December will mark the first time nurses are walking out across the UK


As a result of ministers ignoring their request for formal talks over NHS pay, nurses across the UK will strike for the first time in two days a fortnight before Christmas.

The Royal College of Nursing said its members would go on a national strike on December 15 and 20, the first in its 106-year history. Senior sources expected the industrial action to last 12 hours on both days, possibly between 8 am and 8 am.

The unprecedented national industrial action will likely disrupt care and be the beginning of a series of strikes by other NHS employees, including junior doctors and ambulance staff, throughout the winter and spring.

The RCN confirmed the dates after the UK government rejected proposals for formal, detailed talks as an alternative to industrial action.

“Our members felt such an injustice that they would strike for the first time since we informed ministers more than two weeks ago,” said RCN general secretary Pat Cullen. I declined my offer of formal negotiations; instead, ministers have chosen strike action.

“They have the power and the means to stop it through serious negotiations that resolve our conflict.” The nursing staff has had enough of being taken for granted, low pay, and unsafe staffing levels; enough of being unable to care for our patients.”

The strikes will take place in Northern Ireland, England, and Wales. Next week, when formal notifications are submitted, the RCN will identify which NHS employers are affected.

The RCN has paused announcing strike action in Scotland after the Scottish government reopened NHS pay negotiations.

The NHS trust strikes came after separate ballots were held across boards instead of national ones.

Nurses will only be entitled to strike in up to 40% of hospitals, mental health, and community services in England due to low voter turnout at the ballot box. However, action can occur in all health boards in Northern Ireland except one in Wales.

The UK government ignored nursing staff on Friday, Cullen said, adding, “Turning your back on nurses means you are turning your back on patients.”

He did not recognize figures presented by the Health Secretary, which he said amounted to a 19.2% pay rise at the cost of £10bn a year in pay demands from the RCN.

“If Barclay wishes to meet me, get round. She said that the table and stop the spin and start to speak, he could avert these strikes.” I will make myself available to our nursing staff as much as my team, so my door is open day and night.

“Consequently, he has chosen to strike to speak to me as this option is not available to me now.”

The RCN announced earlier this month that nursing staff at most NHS employers in the UK had voted to strike over pay and patient safety issues.

Due to successive below-inflation pay increases since 2010, experienced nurses faced a real-term 20% pay cut despite a pay rise of about £1,400 in the summer. As spent billions of pounds on agency staff to fill workforce gaps, it said it was obvious that nurses should be fairly paid.

As a result of poor pay, 25,000 nursing staff left the Nursing and Midwifery Council register across the country over the past year, leading to a shortage of nursing staff. 47,000 NHS registered nurse posts need to be fulfilled in England alone.

Other health unions are balloting workers for industrial action. Staff shortages have been in the offing for months as the NHS warns that staff is quitting in large numbers due to low pay and low morale.

According to Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary has refused to negotiate with nurses. The last thing patients need is strike action, which is still being sanctioned by the government who are already not receiving timely treatment. Patients will never forgive the Conservatives for this negligence.”

The health secretary said that the industry deeply regretted the action and was “extremely grateful” for the hard work of nurses. However, he described the RCN’s demands as “not worth the cost” and refused to open formal negotiations.

He added, Our priority is keeping patients safe. As part of its efforts to minimize disruptions and ensure emergency services can continue to operate, the NHS has put in place tried and tested plans for reducing disorders.

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Marta Lopez

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