The Royal College of Nursing RCN has said it could announce more strikes if pay negotiations do not reopen.
Speaking on BBC’s Question Time, RCN chief executive Pat Cullen warned that the dispute could continue into the new year, if the Government refused to negotiate on pay. 'If this Government doesn’t speak to us and doesn’t get into a room, I’m afraid that this will escalate,' she said.
In response the NHS Confederation said: ‘The worry is that this is just the start, that strikes possibly being planned for January could be more severe and coordinated across the different unions.’
This comes as up to 100,000 nursing staff went on strike across the UK in protest at years of real-terms pay cuts and concerns over patient safety.
To read more on this topic:
- Strike to go ahead as government refuses negotiations
- Nurses going on strike is in nobody's best interests says Health Secretary
- RCN opens donations to strike fund in response to public support
In an end-of-day statement Ms Cullen said: ‘On a bitterly cold day, the public warmth towards nursing staff was immense. For my members, this has been about professional pride, not personal hardship.’
New polling by YouGov indicated that public opinion was in favour of the strike, with only 28% of poll participants opposing it.
One RCN member striking yesterday tweeted: ‘It’s not a decision taken lightly and one I know not everyone will agree with but for patient care and the future of nursing the risk of doing nothing is too great.’
The NHS Confederation said the strike had gone as expected, with the NHS being able to maintain safe staffing levels across key services for patients, making sure that urgent and life-saving care had been prioritised.
Chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘No health leader wanted to be in this situation and the strikes could have been avoided had the Government attempted to find more common ground with the RCN on pay.’
He warned: ‘The Government cannot just sit back and let future strikes happen when patient care is on the line.’