Nurses in the United Kingdom are set to embark on strike for the first time in history to underline their desire for salary increments as the country’s cost of living grows.
The nurses’ trade union on Wednesday, November 9, announced that the majority of state-run National Health Service (NHS) employers across Britain have supported the planned strike. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) noted the strike would be a major disruption to an already strained health system, Al Jazeera reports.
According to the RCN, which has more than 300,000 members, the strike, which is the first in the last 106-year, would start before the end of this 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.
Reacting, 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.
Barclay said, “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 has seen a spike in industrial discontent in the United Kingdom, affecting a wide range of industries, including the law and railroads, as pay fails to keep pace with inflation, which is presently running at 10%, and rising energy prices.
The strike action poses a significant danger to the health system, which is already under strain because of continued government underinvestment, the COVID-19 epidemic, and a major personnel shortage.
According to a representative of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who spoke to the media earlier on Wednesday, the administration seeks to find a balance between the “crucial role” played by nurses and the nation’s budgetary concerns.
The NHS has provided free treatment at the time of need since 1948, yet the number of patients on hospital waiting lists has hit a new high of seven million. The emergency and accident departments are similarly overburdened, IsL source, SaharaReporters gathered.