The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have announced two more strike dates in February following the Government’s refusal to negotiate on pay terms.
RCN members across England and Wales will strikes for 12 hours on 6 and 7 February 2023 if the Government continues to refuse negotiations.
Chief executive of the RCN, Pat Cullen announced yesterday: ‘It is with a heavy heart that nursing staff are striking this week and again in three weeks times. Rather than negotiate, Rishi Sunak has chosen strike action again.’
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The new strike dates will see RCN members walk out for the third consecutive month, with 12 more NHS trusts striking than last month.
‘We are doing this in a desperate bid to get him [Rishi Sunak] and ministers to rescue the NHS. The only credible solution is to address the tens of thousands of unfilled jobs, patient care is suffering like never before,’ said Ms Cullen.
The RCN have been urging ministers since last year to open negotiations on NHS pay as the value of salaries for experience nurses today are 20% lower in real terms since 2010 because of below-inflation pay awards.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: 'Patients will understandably be worried by the prospect of further strike action by nurses - the previous two days of nurse strikes saw around 30,000 elective procedures and outpatient appointments cancelled. It is inevitable industrial action will have an impact on patients.'
The government have continued to refuse to discuss the subject of pay resulting in more strikes.
NHS Confederation chief executive, Matthew Taylor responded to the announcement saying: ‘With two more dates announced for nurse strikes in February and further ambulance walk-outs on the horizon, health leaders fear that their warnings of a prolonged war of attrition between the government and the unions are coming true and they worry about the impact this will have on their patients and staff long term’
‘It appears that both sides have a willingness to compromise, and it is vital that the Prime Minister takes this opportunity to find a solution in health, even whilst similar opportunities may not exist elsewhere in the public sector.’
Mr Barclay said that he has had constructive talks with the RCN and other unions about the 2023/24 pay process and he looks forward to continuing that dialogue.