To emphasize their demand for better compensation as the cost of living in the European nation climbs, nurses in the UK will go on strike for the first time in history.
On November 9, their trade union reported that the majority of government-run National Health Service (NHS) employers in Britain have decided to strike. The already overburdened healthcare system will suffer significantly as a result of the strike, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Following the first strike vote in its 106-year history, the RCN, which has more than 300,000 members, said that industrial action would start before the end of the year.
RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said in a statement;
“Anger has become action, our members are saying enough is enough.
“This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. Standards are falling too low.”
RCN members will go on strike at many of England’s largest hospitals, but some of them just missed reaching the required legal turnout levels. All NHS employers in Scotland and Northern Ireland will be counted, and all but one in Wales met the necessary legal requirements.
The health secretary, Steve Barclay, called the development “disappointing.” In addition to a 3% wage increase last year, he claimed that more than one million NHS employees had got salary increases of at least £1,400 this year, and that 30,000 of the 50,000 additional nurses planned to be hired by 2024 have already been hired.
“But union demands for a 17.6 per cent pay settlement are around three times what millions of people outside the public sector will typically receive and simply aren’t reasonable or affordable. Labour have also refused to back this.
“Regrettably, this action will mean some patients will have their treatment delayed. My priority is to keep patients safe during any strikes, minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.”
While maintaining emergency care during strikes, NHS trusts are likely to postpone scheduled surgery. Health officials have stated that they are preparing for staffing levels akin to “bank holidays.”
This year, the UK has experienced a surge of industrial unrest affecting a variety of sectors, including the law and railways, as pay fails to keep pace with inflation, which is currently running at 10%, and rising energy prices.
The strike action poses a serious threat to the health system, which is already under pressure from ongoing government underinvestment, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a critical staffing shortage.
The administration wants to strike a compromise between the “crucial role” provided by nurses and the fiscal issues the nation is facing, according to a representative for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who spoke to reporters earlier on Wednesday.
Since 1948, the NHS has offered free healthcare at the point of need, yet the number of people on hospital waiting lists has reached a record seven million. Additionally, emergency rooms are under pressure.