Nurses strike for the second time as ambulance staff plan walkouts
NHS nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are striking again today in a protest over pay and working conditions.
It is the second walkout in less than a week and around 10,000 nurses are expected to take part. The nursing strikes are the first in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union’s 106-year history.
During the nursing strike, measures have been put in place to ensure patients will not come to harm and emergency and urgent services will continue.
However, routine services such as non-emergency operations will be affected.
Ambulance staff are also planning a walkout on Wednesday, in England and Wales, unless the government can avert it.
Steve Barclay, the health secretary, has invited the three unions representing paramedics to talks today.
Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other ambulance staff also plan to walk out on December 28 in the following trusts:
- South West Ambulance Service
- South East Coast Ambulance Service
- North West Ambulance Service
- South Central Ambulance Service
- North East Ambulance Service
- East Midlands Ambulance Service
- West Midlands Ambulance Service
- Welsh Ambulance Service
- Yorkshire Ambulance Service
It comes as a wave of strikes are taking place across the UK by public sector workers. Staff at Royal Mail are among those striking as well as civil servants and teachers in Scotland.
Pay and soaring inflation are the main reasons for strikes
There are a variety of reasons for workers going on strike but, for most, the main cause reason is pay. With inflation soaring, and in the middle of the cost-of-living crisis, wages have not kept up.
The RCN said recent pay announcements have left experienced nurses 20% worse off in real terms compared to a decade ago.
NHS staff in England and Wales were given an average pay rise of 4.75% which is equivalent to £1,400. Those in Scotland had a flat-rate rise of £2,200 and in Northern Ireland, no rise has been announced.
Other factors including pension packages, staffing issues, and working hours are all included when deciding on voting for action.
‘NHS staff have had enough’
Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: “After twelve years of Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, NHS staff have had enough.
“The last thing they want to do is take strike action, but the government has left them with no choice.
“Steve Barclay needs to listen and engage with us about pay. If he can’t talk to us about this most basic workforce issue, what on earth is he Health Secretary for?
“The government could stop this strike in a heartbeat – but they need to wake up and start negotiating on pay.”