Around 100,000 nurses across England, Northern Ireland, and Wales will strike today in objection to years of real-terms pay cuts and concerns over patient safety. It is the biggest mass walk out in around a century. A second day of strike action is planned for Tuesday December 20.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “For many of us, this is our first time striking and our emotions are really mixed. The NHS is in crisis, the nursing profession can’t take any more, our loved ones are already suffering.
“It is not unreasonable to demand better. This is not something that can wait. We are committed to our patients and always will be.”
Pat will be visiting some of the many picket lines that will be set up across the country today. She added: Pat, who is visiting picket lines today, said: “I have tried to negotiate and get governments to act. They’ve had every chance but they chose to turn their back on us. As hard as this is, we won’t turn our backs on our patients. That’s why we’ll be on picket lines today, and I will be with you.”
Plans for strike action in Scotland have been paused after the Scottish government returned to the negotiating table. The RCN are consulting eligible members in Scotland on the revised pay offer and the ballot closes on Monday (December 19).
Saffron Cordery, who is interim chief executive of NHS Providers, said agency NHS trusts would be doing “everything they can” to properly staff essential services.
She said: "But it’s inevitable that some operations or appointments will have to be rescheduled, and trusts are pulling out all the stops to minimise disruption. The cold snap has ramped up demand that was already at or close to record levels, but on strike day NHS trusts will do everything they can to ensure that essential services are properly staffed and patient safety, always the number one priority, is safeguarded."