The Royal College of Nursing has announced two strike dates after a dispute with the Government over pay and patient safety conditions. They say that staffing levels are so low that care is being compromised.
The strikes will happen in England, Northern Ireland and Wales on December 15 and 20 after a recent ballot in which members at the majority of NHS employers across the UK supported strike action. The RCN says only by paying nursing staff fairly will enough people be recruited and retain staff in the industry.
The RCN claims meetings with the UK government have seen ministers ‘sidestep the serious issue’. RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time.
“My offer of formal negotiations was declined and instead ministers have chosen strike action. They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks that address our dispute. Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”
While exact details of which health services will be exempt have not yet been set out, RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said “life-preserving services” and “emergency-type care” will continue on strike days.
Nick Hulme, Chief Executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, as well as community services in east Suffolk and north Essex, told EssexLive: “We will be planning for all eventualities to keep our patients safe – that is our top priority. We value all our staff and understand the importance of good pay and conditions for individuals and their families, as well as for wider NHS staff retention and recruitment.
“While pay is a matter for Government and the trade unions, we want to see a resolution as soon as possible to make sure we can continue to focus on delivering high quality and compassionate patient care to anyone in our communities who needs it.”
The Mid and South Essex NHS Trust said nursing staff did not ballot to strike at their workplaces, meaning all services will be running as normal and patients should attend booked appointments as usual.
Do you have something you think I should be aware of? Let me know by getting in touch by email at email@example.com or contact me on social media.