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Nursing strikes over as ballot falls short

Published on: 27 Jun 2023

The Royal College of Nursing’s ballot for further strike action in the English NHS has not met the required threshold, putting an end to any further nursing strikes for the immediate future. 

The nurses’ union confirmed today the 43.4 per cent turnout fell short of the required 50 per cent needed to pass the legal threshold for industrial action. 

The ballot closed last week after running for a month and returned 122,000 ballots, according to the RCN. Of this, the union said around 84 per cent of members were in favour of further strike action. 

The RCN was in the minority of healthcare unions who rejected the government’s pay offer earlier this year, which included a one-off award of 2 per cent of the 2022-23 salary, a one-off bonus and a 5 per cent increase in 2023-24.

RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said the fight for fair pay was “far from over”. 

Ms Cullen added: “We have started something special – the voice of nursing has never been stronger and we’re going to keep using it.”

In response to the news, a Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We hugely value the work of nurses and welcome the end to hugely disruptive industrial action so staff can continue caring for patients and cutting waiting lists.”

Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, called for the government and the RCN to “reset their relationship and to resolve wider, ongoing issues affecting the NHS workforce, including understaffing and burnout.”

He warned the “strength of feeling within the profession” must not be ignored, nor the factors that “compelled them to walk out in the first place”.

“Anything less risks compounding the damaging legacy of increasingly long and drawn out industrial disputes between the government and different groups of healthcare staff,” he added. 

In terms of other Agenda for Change trade unions who rejected the pay offer, The Royal College of Radiographers is still balloting its members and Unite has a mandate for further local strike action.