The biggest nursing strike in NHS history is set to take place before Christmas after union officials said many people across the country voted in favor of the strike.
Patients who are already on the waiting list are now more likely to have surgeries and appointments delayed or canceled. This will be the first nationwide strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
This weekend a union source said: This will disrupt most services and increase picket lines across the country.
The prospect that nurses across the NHS will strike over salaries will be a major challenge for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt.
It will also be a big test for governments to address wage constraints as they face strike threats across the public sector in the face of the highest inflation since the 1980s.
According to union officials, since the Conservative Party came to power in 2010, the salaries of some skilled nurses have fallen by 20% in real terms. They demanded a 5% salary and a total inflation of 15%.
However, the government said the average basic salary for nurses would increase by only 4% from March 2022, from about 35,600 to about 37,000.
The NHS president will be concerned that a nationwide nurse strike will exacerbate the crisis in the nation’s hospitals. A record 7 million people were waiting for hospital treatment in the UK at the end of August, according to figures released in October.
More than 300,000 members of the UK’s largest nursing union, RCN, have voted for the largest strike action in union history.
All life-saving treatments are maintained according to the RCN protocol for strike. Lifesaving services include emergency intervention, maintenance of treatment services, and urgent diagnostic procedures. This means that nurses in the intensive care unit and A&E departments are exempt from participation.
The RCN says ministers have failed to address the workforce crisis and the exploitation of nursing staff is no longer acceptable. An analysis by the Nuffield Trust, released earlier this year, showed that 40,365 nurses had left the NHS by June 2022. That’s one in nine.
NHS England has begun an effort to recruit tens of thousands of nurses to fill record vacancies. There are over 46,800 Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visitor vacancies on the NHS in the UK alone.
Although the RCN ballot counting continues, officials expect to announce soon that the majority of nurses in some of the UK’s leading trust and health institutions have voted for the strike.
RCN Secretary General and CEO Pat Cullen said: Both experienced and new hires are deciding that they cannot see the future in a nursing profession that is not worth it and is not treated fairly.
Our strike action is as good for nurses as it is for patients. As we begin to act, politicians across the UK will be challenged to support nursing staff and understand public support.
Nurses working in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were voted on.
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Unison is also voting on strike action in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for 350,000 NHS staff, including porters, nurses, paramedics and janitors. Unison voting closes at the end of this month. Junior doctors also voted in January.
Voting closed on Wednesday was held at the local level within each employer. This means that government officials can authorize strike actions against NHS employers who have passed the voting threshold.
In England, Scotland and Wales, the law requires a minimum of 50% of the vote and a majority in favor of an action to be legal. Northern Ireland has separate laws.
For many years the RCN rules did not support industrial action. These were changed in 1995 to allow strikes as long as they did not harm the patient’s interests.
If members support widespread strike action, it will be the first strike conducted by RCN in England, Wales and Scotland. Members of Northern Ireland went on strike over salaries and staff levels for the first time in 2019-20.
The RCN did not provide information on the proposed action, but officials say strikes are most likely before Christmas if there is a yes vote. Members were advised to vote in favor of the strike.
NHS England sent a letter to the NHS Trust and Integrative Health Commission last week about the potential action. The NHS’s current mission is to ensure that emergency services continue to operate normally with minimal disruption to patient care in preparation for potential industrial activity.
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