Nurses in the United Kingdom will go on strike for the first time in the two days leading up to Christmas. Let us look at why NHS nurses went on strike before Christmas. Before Christmas, NHS nurses will stage their largest-ever strike to demand higher pay. The nurses’ union, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), held a ballot on industrial action for its 300,000 members between October 6 and November 2, the first time it had done so for members in all four UK nations in its 106-year history.
Where Did the Strike Occur?
Strikes will occur in at least 177 NHS trusts. Some examples include the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital in London, the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. A complete list of hospitals and NHS trusts participating in the strike can be seen here. The RCN announced on November 25 that the first statewide strikes would occur on December 15 and 20, 2022. According to senior sources, the strike is expected to last 12 hours on both days, most likely from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Strikes might last until May 2023. More concrete plans will be disclosed soon.
Trust decides to strike in what way?
To be eligible for legal strike action in England, Scotland, and Wales, the union must meet two requirements in an NHS trust: 50% of eligible union members must vote in the ballot, and the majority must then authorize industrial action. According to the British Medical Journal, 102 out of 215 NHS trusts in England fell just short of the statutory 50% turnout percentage. Every NHS group in Scotland and Northern Ireland will strike, and all health boards in Wales—all but one—met the criterion.
Why did NHS nurses announce strike before Christmas?
The most challenging issue is money. Nurses are among a massive group of government workers whose pay has not kept up with inflation. The health secretary praised nurses for their dedication and hard work while expressing regret that some will take part in strike action. “These are difficult times for everyone, and the economic realities mean that the RCN’s recommendations, which are based on existing figures and would cost £10 billion per year, are impossible,” said Steve Barclay. A flat wage of slightly over £2,200 was offered in Scotland, while no pay award could be allowed in Northern Ireland without an Executive in place. This year, NHS employees in England and Wales have an average raise of 4.75%.
What Does the Record Say?
The chancellor and former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, expressed “deep sympathy” for nurses struggling to make ends meet but stressed that cutting inflation is the best way to help them. According to research from the London School of Economics, experienced nurses’ salary has declined by 20% in real terms over the last ten years. This means that nurses practically work for free one day per week. This is consistent with recent research from the health charity Nuffield Trust, which discovered that NHS employees’ real income will be lower in 2022-2023 than in 2010-2011.
There must be a difference:
RCN head Patricia Marquis told Sky News that nurses were taking action by reminding governments that “something needs to change,” nursing salary has lagged over the last ten years. She stated, “Our members are telling the government loud and clear that the NHS must change for nurses.” “We received a pay award of £1,400 this year, which may seem like a lot to some people, but nursing pay has fallen behind over the last ten years by about the rate of inflation plus 5%; as a result, our members are extremely disappointed that they did not receive anywhere near what they needed to bring their salaries back up to where they were ten years ago.”
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