Nurses in England are participating in a new strike, which has been described as its largest to date. The Royal College of Nursing protest will continue until Monday at midnight, affecting half of England's NHS trusts.
It is the very first time that nurses from A&E, oncology services and intensive care have participated in a strike. However, the union has consented that staff can be called in for certain critical areas. The government asserts that the strike will significantly disrupt patient care.
This latest 28-hour strike precedes a crucial meeting on Tuesday between health unions, ministers, and NHS administrators to discuss the government's 5% compensation offer. In the dispute over pay, recruitment, and retention in the NHS, the RCN has previously rejected the government's pay offer and announced this new strike, their third this year.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay characterized the RCN's decision to proceed with its strike as "premature" and disrespectful to the other unions present at the meeting. Members of the Unite union at certain NHS trusts and ambulance services in England are also participating in strike action on Monday and Tuesday, having also rejected the most recent pay offer.
NHS England described the strike as the largest industrial action to date and warned patients to expect "service disruptions and delays during the strike period."
It warned that personnel levels in some areas would be "exceptionally low, even lower than on previous strike days" and that the number of rescheduled appointments due to strike action was expected to reach half a million the following week.
This means that a small number of RCN members will be required to work in order to satisfy the legal requirement for trade unions to provide life-and-limb coverage. The Health Secretary, Mr. Barclay, stated on Sunday that the strikes would place "greater strain on the National Health Service" and be "extremely disruptive for patients."
Dr. Mushlin added that he had witnessed an increase in "terrible" aggression and violence against hospital staff as a result of the NHS's lengthy wait times, which had a negative effect on morale. The RCN members' strike began at 20:00 BST on Sunday and will conclude at 12:00 AM on Monday.
Originally, it was scheduled to continue through Tuesday, but a High Court justice ruled that it was illegal because a six-month mandate for action had expired. Preya Assi, a cancer nurse at University College London Hospital, has not yet gone on strike because her staff has been exempted from previous walkouts. It was deemed a critical service by the RCN, so members were instructed to remain at work while co workers from other areas of the NHS went on strike. She stated that the government's pay offer was "untenable" due to inflation, which had made it difficult for nurses to pay their expenses and care for their families.
The strike was called earlier this month after RCN members rejected a government offer of a 5% pay increase for 2023-24 and a one-time payment of at least £1,655 to top off last year's salary, based on staff grade.
The RCN leadership had recommended that members embrace the offer.