The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced the first national strike action for nurses in its 106-year history.
More than 300,000 members voted in the nursing union’s biggest ever strike ballot, with the results released this afternoon.
The RCN said industrial action will take place in the NHS trusts or health boards that have met the legal requirements.
Many of the biggest hospitals in England will see strike action by RCN members but others narrowly missed the legal turnout thresholds to qualify for action.
Thousands of NHS operations and appointments are likely to be cancelled, as the health service treat emergency patients in a “life-preserving care model”.
What are the nurse strike dates?
The RCN has not yet released the strike dates, however they are expected to begin before the end of this year and the mandate to organise strikes runs until early May 2023, six months after members finished voting.
Which NHS Trusts in and around Birmingham will go on strike?
Only NHS trusts or health boards where voting passed the legal threshold for industrial action will be affected by strikes. However this is the majoirty of NHS employers across the UK.
Here are all of the West Midlands Trusts which have voted to strike:
- Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
- Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
- The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
- Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust
- University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
- Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
- Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust
- NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB (BSol ICB)
- NHS Black Country ICB
Why are nurses striking?
The union is calling for a pay rise of 5% above the RPI inflation rate, which currently stands at above 12%. In England and Wales, NHS staff - including nurses - have been given an average of 4.75% more, with the lowest paid guaranteed a rise of at least £1,400.
In Scotland, 5% was initially offered to NHS staff, but that has been changed to a flat rate of just over £2,200, which works out at just over 8% for a newly qualified nurse. In Northern Ireland, nurses are yet to receive a pay award because there is no working government.
During the ballot, the RCN had argued this year’s below-inflation pay award came after years of squeezes on nurses’ salaries, which the union says is compromising care as the NHS is struggling to attract and retain nursing staff.
A spokesperson for the RCN said: “Cutting nurses’ wages by 20% since 2010 is the opposite of providing ‘considerable support’ for nurses and the Cabinet Office Minister shouldn’t insult our members by pretending it is. The minister appears in denial about both the anger of nursing staff and the public support we have.”
How will the strike affect NHS appointments?
Thousands of NHS operations and appointments are likely to be cancelled when nurses go on strike across the UK. The health service will turn its attention to treating emergency patients in a “life-preserving care model”.
TheRCN has already said it is committed to ensuring emergency and urgent care can be kept running during a strike. Its care model for strikes says emergency care will be provided to preserve life or to prevent permanent disability.
Some of the most serious cancer cases could be treated, while urgent diagnostic procedures and assessments will be staffed if they are needed to gather data on potentially life-threatening conditions or those that could lead to permanent disability.
What has the government said?
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the vote by nurses to strike was “disappointing”.
He tweeted: “It is disappointing some RCN members voted for industrial action. We accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body in full and have given over one million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year on top of a 3% rise last year.
“I’m hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, including nurses. That’s why supporting the NHS and social care workforce to care for patients is one of my priorities, and we have already recruited 30,000 of the 50,000 more nurses we promised by 2024.
“But union demands for a 17.6% pay settlement are around three times what millions of people outside the public sector will typically receive and simply aren’t reasonable or affordable. Labour have also refused to back this. Regrettably, this action will mean some patients will have their treatment delayed. My priority is to keep patients safe during any strikes, minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.”