The Royal College of Nursing announced its members will stage their first ever national walk out on December 15 and 20
Plymouth NHS nurses are set to join colleagues across the UK in two days of strike action next month, in a dramatic escalation of the pay row raging across the NHS. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced its members will stage their first ever national walk out on December 15 and 20. University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust was one of the places where nurses voted for strike action and it is expected a number of workers at Derriford Hospital may join the picket line.
The RCN said it was calling strikes after the UK Government turned down its offer of formal, detailed negotiations as an alternative to industrial action. The strikes will take place across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RCN said it will announce which particular NHS employers be striking next week, when formal notifications are submitted.
Earlier this month, the RCN announced that nursing staff at the majority of NHS employers across the UK had voted to take strike action over pay and patient safety. The RCN said that despite a pay rise of around £1,400 awarded in the summer, experienced nurses are worse off by 20% in real terms due to successive below-inflation awards since 2010.
RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time. My offer of formal negotiations was declined and, instead, ministers have chosen strike action. They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks that address our dispute.
“Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.” The RCN said the economic argument for paying nursing staff fairly was clear when billions of pounds was being spent on agency staff to plug workforce gaps.
It added that in the last year, 25,000 nursing staff around the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council register, with poor pay contributing to staff shortages across the UK, which it warned was affecting patient safety.
There are 47,000 unfilled registered nurse posts in England’s NHS alone, said the RCN. The College maintains that surveys have shown huge public support for nurses receiving a bigger pay rise, as well as the right to take industrial action.
Other health unions are also balloting workers for industrial action, while ambulance staff in Scotland are due to walk out on Monday. A ballot among hundreds of thousands of Unison members closes on Friday, and among Unite’s NHS members next week.
Midwives and physiotherapists are also voting on strikes, while a ballot of junior doctors opens in the new year. Health unions have been warning for months that workers are quitting in huge numbers over pay and low morale, leading to staff shortages in hospitals and other parts of the NHS.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I am hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of nurses and deeply regret some union members will be taking industrial action.
“These are challenging times for everyone and the economic circumstances mean the RCN’s demands, which on current figures are a 19.2% pay rise, costing £10 billion a year, are not affordable.
“We have prioritised the NHS with an extra £6.6 billion, on top of previous record funding, and accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body to give nurses a fair pay rise of at least £1,400 this year. This means a newly qualified nurse will typically earn over £31,000 a year – with more senior nurses earning much more than that – they will also receive a pension contribution worth 20% of their salary.
“Our priority is keeping patients safe. The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.”
Wes Streeting, shadow health secretary, said: “Why on Earth is the Health Secretary refusing to negotiate with nurses? Patients already can’t get treated on time, strike action is the last thing they need, yet the Government is letting this happen. Patients will never forgive the Conservatives for this negligence.
“First the Government refused to speak to the health unions all summer, now they refuse to negotiate. If the Conservatives have given up governing, they should stand aside for Labour.
“There were no strikes in the NHS during the 13 years of the last Labour government and the cavalry is coming with the next Labour government. We will abolish non-doms to launch the biggest expansion of medical training in history, giving the NHS the staff it needs so that nurses aren’t overworked and patients are seen on time.”
List of NHS trusts where nurses have voted for strike action
The below list shows the areas in England where a first-in-a-century strike ballot passed earlier this month, the Mirror reports.
However, exact strike dates at each hospital have not been announced yet – they are still being thrashed out between local union leaders and each hospital trust. Unlike other strikers, nurses need to hold careful talks to ensure patients are not put at risk by their industrial action.
In theory that could, for example, mean strikes are “staggered” in a particular town so staff at the western hospital down tools only on December 15, and staff at the eastern hospital walk out only on December 20. Or staff at some hospitals could strike on both dates, while staff at others strike on none at all.
“On a day of strike our nurses will not walk out on their patients,” general secretary Pat Cullen told BBC Breakfast. “We will continue to preserve live preserving services on those days but of course there will be disruption.”
East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust
NHS Derby and Derbyshire ICB (Joined Up Care Derbyshire)
NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICB
Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust
Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust
Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust
West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB
NHS Mid and South Essex ICB
NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB
NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust
Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust
St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
NHS North Central London ICB
NHS South West London ICB
Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Found Trust
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Found Trust
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust
Midlands and Lancashire CSU
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Found Trust
Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
Central Cheshire Integrated Care Partnership
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
Health Education England
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB
Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust
The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
North of England CSU (NECS)
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust
South East Coast Ambulance Service
Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
NHS Kent and Medway ICB
NHS Surrey Heartlands ICB
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
Solent NHS Trust
Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Devon Partnership NHS Trust
South Western Ambulance Service NHS Found Trust
Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
North Bristol NHS Trust
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust
University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust
Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)
Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust
University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust
Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust
Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust
NHS Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire ICB (BSW Together)
NHS Devon ICB (One Devon)
NHS Dorset ICB (Our Dorset)
NHS Gloucestershire ICB (One Gloucestershire)
Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust
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