NHS nursers have voted to go on strike for the first time in 106 years over pay and patient safety.
Nurses across the UK will hold a series of walkouts which will affect the majority of NHS employers in the UK, as nurses protest pay levels and patient safety concerns.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union stated staff at many of England’s largest hospitals would go on strike, but that others “narrowly missed” the legal turnout thresholds required for action.
All NHS employers in Northern Ireland and Scotland would be included, as would all but one in Wales.
RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said: “Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough.
“The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife edge at home and a raw deal at work.
“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this.
“While we plan our strike action, next week’s budget is the UK government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point. This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses.
“Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us.”
The union had urged more than 300,000 of its members to vote for industrial action over pay in the first statutory ballot on industrial action held across the UK in the Royal College of Nursing’s 106-year history.
It had demanded that its members be paid five percent more than the RPI inflation rate, which is currently above 12 percent.
According to recent research, an experienced nurse’s salary has fallen by 20 percent in real terms since 2010, with nurses working the equivalent of one day per week for free.
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Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said the government “hugely values the work that nurses do”, and had already committed to raising their wages in line with recommendations from the independent pay review body.
He also told reporters they “recognised the contribution of nurses” last year, giving them a pay rise of three percent more than most other public sector workers.
But Mr. Barclay added: “We also need to recognise that these are economically challenging times.
“We need a strong economy in order to pay for a strong health care system and a demand of 17 percent- three times what most non-public sector workers will receive – is out of step with the economic circumstances that we face.”
The health secretary said his “door is open” for talks with the RCN and he looked forward to meeting them “in the days ahead”.
Source: Sky News