Nurses will go on strike over pay and safety concerns on two dates in mid-December, the Royal College of Nursing has announced today.
Royal College of Nursing said its members would take industrial action on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December after the government turned down the union’s offer to enter formal pay negotiations.
Results from an industrial ballot, announced earlier this month, showed the threshold to strike had been met at 130 NHS organisations across England. This included 104 provider trusts, around half the total.
HSJ’s analysis revealed significant variations in where strike action was voted for, with almost all trusts in the South West having voted in favour of a strike, compared to around a quarter of those in London.
This is the first time the RCN has held a statutory ballot of its members on industrial action across the United Kingdom in its 106-year-history.
Pat Cullen, RCN’s general secretary and chief executive, said: “Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time.
“My offer of formal negotiations was declined, and instead ministers have chosen strike action. They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks that address our dispute.
“Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”
In July, the government announced a £1,400 pay rise for most Agenda for Change staff for 2022-23.
The RCN is asking for a pay increase that is five percentage points above the retail price index measure of inflation. Inflation on an RPI measure rose to 14.2 per cent in October, according to the Office for National Statistics, making RCN’s ask 19.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, RCN-commissioned research by London Economics has found nurses at the top of band 5 and in band 6 are 20 per cent worse off in real terms compared to a decade ago.
Responding to the RCN’s announcement, health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said the RCN’s demands were “not affordable”.
He added: “Our priority is keeping patients safe. The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.”
Other unions’ ballot results for industrial action are expected to follow shortly. Unison, Unite and GMB, who are three of the largest unions in the country, are expected to announce their results in the coming weeks.