The RCN has accused the Government of having 'lost the support of nursing staff and the public', after it succeeded in its legal bid to frustrate next week's strike action. The High Court has ruled that striking on 2 May 2023 would be illegal, and the walkout will now end at 11:59pm on 1 May as opposed to 8pm the next day.
This comes after the Government asked the High Court to assess whether the last day of the RCN’s planned strike action fell outside of their six-month mandate for strikes.
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RCN chief executive, Pat Cullen responded to the ruling with: ‘The full weight of government gave ministers this victory over nursing staff. It is the darkest day of this dispute so far, the Government taking its own nurses through the courts in bitterness at their simple expectation of a better pay deal.
‘The Government has won this legal battle. But they have lost the support of nursing staff and the public. The most trusted profession has been taken through the court, by the least trusted people.’
The ruling does not affect the strike action on 30 April at 8pm and the RCN are encouraging members who work at NHS Employers to still take part.
Health Secretary, Steve Barclay welcomed the High Court decision as he explained the government could not stand by and let ‘plainly unlawful’ strike action to go ahead.
‘The Government wants to continue working constructively with the Royal College of Nursing, as was the case when we agreed the pay offer that was endorsed by their leadership. We now call on them to do the right thing by patients and agree derogations for their strike action on 30 April and 1 May.’
This legal dispute began after NHS Employers voiced their concerns in a letter to the Government about the RCN’s strike mandate.
Responding to the ruling, chief executive of NHS Employers Danny Mortimer said: ‘ The RCN could and should have resolved this significant issue of the legality of its strike sooner.
‘The RCN vigorously rejected our assertion and we were left with no choice but to ask the Secretary of State to seek the view of the courts. Clarity has now been achieved, not least for RCN members and the Judge has confirmed the position we set out last week: any strike action occurring on 2 May would be illegal.’