ERs, cancer wards, ICUs affected for first time by nurses’ strike ahead of emergency vote


The UK’s emergency departments (ERs), cancer wards and intensive care units (ICUs) were affected for the first time as nurses launched their “biggest strike ever” on Sunday night over a pay dispute.

The 28-hour walk from 8pm Sunday to a minute before midnight Monday came after members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) voted to reject the government’s salary proposal.

The RCN said it was calling for an “immediate resumption of wage negotiations.”

The union initially said there would be no exceptions, but after negotiations with the hospital, some nursing staff would work in the neonatal, pediatric, and adult ICUs to “maintain life and extremity care.” An exemption was granted to allow

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said on ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ program that the union had granted “a majority, if not all, of the exemptions requested”.

The strike was originally scheduled to last 48 hours but had to be cut short after the High Court reached an agreement with the government that the RCN’s power to organize a strike would expire on Monday night.

crunch vote on tuesday

The proposal consists of a 5 per cent salary increase for 2023-2024, a one-off payment equal to 2 per cent of 2022 salary, and a one-time ‘NHS Backlog Bonus’, which covers all eligible was made to the union of According to the “Agenda for Change” payroll system.

The union had previously encouraged members to accept, saying it was likely the best deal they could negotiate, but the votes split the various unions.

Union leaders are scheduled to meet with UK National Health Service (NHS) employers on Tuesday to vote on whether to accept the proposal.

Members of the Union, the GMB, the Royal College of Midwives, the British and Ireland Orthoptic Society, and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy voted to accept the proposal. Meanwhile, members of the RCN, Unite, Royal College of Podiatry, and Society of Radiographers voted to accept the proposal. Voted to decline the transaction. The British Dietetic Association and the Federation of Clinical Scientists have not released the results of the vote.

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Health Secretary Steve Berkley arrives in Downing Street ahead of the Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London, December 13, 2022. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

At a press conference on Sunday, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the proposal would be accepted.

He also criticized the RCN for going on strike before the vote, saying it was “premature” and “disrespectful to other unions”.

RCN: More strikes may come

Cullen told Sky News on Monday, “I have certainly not seen any disrespect shown by our nursing staff,” and urged the health secretary “not to be disrespectful” to striking nurses. Totally destroyed by this government. ”

“The NHS is in crisis, with over 7 million people on the waiting list. will you deal with it?

“Otherwise, patient safety is at serious risk and the backlog cannot be sorted out.”

She urged the government to “turn around this table immediately” to improve the proposal.

After recommending the deal, she also denied that there were “reliability issues” she criticized the deal for, saying, “What our nursing staff said was that it was neither fair nor reasonable.” It wasn’t either…don’t deal with recruitment and retention issues.”

Cullen also told PA Media news agency that the RCN will re-vote its members to give new strike powers in May.

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NHS workers take part in a procession from St Thomas’ Hospital to London’s Trafalgar Square on 1 May 2023 as members of the Royal College of Nursing and the Unite Union continue their strike over a wage dispute. (Jordan Pettitt/PA Media)

Asked about patient safety concerns, Cullen said, “It’s funny how patient safety issues are always highlighted on a day when nurses are speaking up for their patients.”

“What I want to say to these people is to work one day 364 days a year in the capacity of our nursing staff who are not mentioned by the general manager or the chief executive officer or indeed by this government. is,” she said. “It’s our nursing staff who bear that risk.”

NHS chief: Strike has taken a ‘big price’

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said six months of intermittent strikes had “hit hard” on the service and urged unions to accept the wage deal.

Taylor told Sky News that NHS employers are “relieved” that the strike has been shortened and that the RCN has “increased the number of mitigation measures specifically agreed with individual hospitals to save lives.” “I’m grateful,” he said. limb service. ”

He praised the union’s “solidarity” and said that was the reason for the agreement, but the federation said, “Given that most of the staff voted in favor of the agreement, there is no need for unions to work together.” I believe the time has come to accept it.” And we need to think longer term about what needs to be done to address the crisis of 120,000 vacancies in health services. ”

The RCN had previously said salaries for experienced nurses had fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010, but the government said the proposals presented were “fair and reasonable”. I’m here. Ministers have previously said they were concerned about the risk of inflation taking hold.