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RCN members vote in favour of industrial action

For the first time in its 106-year history, RCN members have voted in favour of strike action

Record number of nurses have voted to strike, the RCN has announced.

For the first time in its 106-year history, the RCN balloted its 300,000 NHS members. Overall results show members at the majority of NHS employers across the UK have voted to strike for fair pay and safe staffing.

Strikes will now take place at the NHS trusts or health boards that have met the relevant legal requirements.

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RCN Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: ‘This is a defining moment in our history, and our fight will continue through strike action and beyond for as long as it takes to win justice for the nursing profession and our patients.’

Industrial action is expected to begin before the end of this year, with more detailed plans and timelines to be announced in due course.

The RCN have said they will ensure that strike action is carried out legally and safely at all times.

Responding to the announcement, chief executive of the NHS Confederation Matthew Taylor said: ‘Years of suppressed pay alongside 47,000 vacancies across England and rising demand for healthcare have led to many feeling demoralized and that they are at the end of the road.’

‘We hope that the negotiating parties can reach a compromise that will both minimise disruption to patient care and benefit frontline staff. The last thing anyone wants is a ‘war of attrition’ playing out over many months.’

RCN members are campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above inflation to overcome real-terms pay cuts, support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis and recognise their safety critical skills.

The Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We are all hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, including nurses, and deeply regret that some union members have voted for industrial action.’

‘Our priority is keeping patients safe during any strikes. The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.’