Nurses to Vote on Strike Action

UK nurses are set to vote on whether to strike over pay, which could lead to disruption within the NHS this winter.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is asking more than 300,000 of its members if they want to carry out industrial action.

It could result in the first time the union’s members have walked out.

Voting starts today (6 October) and will close on 2 November.

Reason for the ballot

The RCN is recommending a strike in reaction to the government increasing pay for most NHS staff by 5% in the summer.

According to the RCN, nurses should receive a pay rise of 5% above inflation, which currently stands at 10.1%.

RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said that underpaying nurses puts patients at risk.

She said: “We are understaffed, undervalued and underpaid. For years our profession has been pushed to the edge, and now patient safety is paying the price.”

The union is campaigning for a pay increase to “overcome a decade of real-terms pay cuts, support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis and recognise their safety critical skills”. It explained that paying nurses fairly is key to retaining existing and recruiting new nursing staff.

Maintaining patient safety

According to the RCN, strikes are a “last resort”. The union has explained that some nursing staff will keep working during strikes, unlike workers in other sectors. This will be arranged with employers before any industrial action to ensure patient safety.

It added that employers are responsible for maintaining the provision of their services during strikes.

Life preservation services would come into effect. Those include:

  • Care without which life would be at risk or permanent disability would occur
  • Emergency intervention for the preservation of life or for the prevention of permanent disability
  • Urgent procedures and assessments needed to diagnose potentially life-threatening conditions or conditions that could potentially lead to permanent disability

In a handbook on industrial action, the RCN recommends that service provision during a strike should be the same as on Christmas Day.

Shortfall of nurses

The Health Foundation’s REAL Centre recently found that the NHS in England may experience a shortfall of 38,000 nurses by 2023/24.

Although the government has set a target to recruit 50,000 new nurses by the end of the current parliament, the REAL Centre has argued that this doesn’t account for rising demand for NHS services. This is down to an ageing population and an increase in the number of people with complex health conditions, it said.

If you have experienced problems within the NHS that led to a health problem getting worse, you could be entitled to make a compensation claim. To find out more, just give us a call or start your claim online.

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