RCN Union Leader Warns Nurses’ Strikes Could Last Until Christmas

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Nurses in England are threatening to strike until Christmas, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The 48-hour walkout, which is set to begin on 30 April, will be the first to include emergency care staff. RCN leader Pat Cullen warned that the government needs to put more money on the table if it wants to avoid further disruption.

Conservative party chairman Greg Hands said the government’s pay offer was “fair and reasonable”, although he later clarified that the £5,100 figure he cited related to a higher-grade band 6 nurse. Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting expressed his worry over the strike action, citing risks to patient safety.

The strike was called after RCN members voted by 54% to 46% to reject the government’s offer of a 5% rise in 2023/24 and a one-payment of at least £1,655. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said in a letter to the RCN that a nurse at the top of band 5 would get “over £5,000” extra.

Ms Cullen, the union’s general secretary, said that after the walkout from 20:00 BST on 30 April to 20:00 on 2 May, the union would “move immediately to ballot our members” on their next move. “If that ballot is successful it will mean further strike action right up until Christmas,” she added. She urged the health secretary and the government to join her union at the negotiating table “very quickly”.

The RCN has rejected calls from ministers to pause strike action, with Ms Cullen saying she had received a letter from Mr Barclay requesting that just half-an-hour before she came on air. She said the letter was “disrespectful” to nurses and claimed the health secretary had spent longer writing in the Sun on Sunday newspaper than responding to nurses.

NHS bosses have warned that a nurses’ strike including emergency care staff would “present serious risks and challenges”. Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper said the warning of rolling nurses’ strikes up until Christmas “must act as a wake-up call” and ministers should “urgently” find a solution. In Scotland, union members have accepted an offer worth an average 6.5% for 2023-24. Health unions in Wales and Northern Ireland are still in negotiations with their governments over pay.

Nurses in England are threatening to strike until Christmas, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The 48-hour walkout, scheduled for 30 April, will be the first to include emergency care staff. RCN leader Pat Cullen has warned that unless the government puts more money on the table, further disruption is likely.

Conservative party chairman Greg Hands said the government’s pay offer was “fair and reasonable”. However, he later clarified that the £5,100 figure he cited related to a higher-grade band 6 nurse. Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting expressed his worry over the strike action, citing risks to patient safety.

The strike was called after RCN members voted by 54% to 46% to reject the government’s offer of a 5% rise in 2023/24 and a one-payment of at least £1,655. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said in a letter to the RCN that a nurse at the top of band 5 would get “over £5,000” extra.

Ms Cullen, the union’s general secretary, said that after the walkout from 20:00 BST on 30 April to 20:00 on 2 May, the union would “move immediately to ballot our members” on their next move. If successful, this could mean further strike action right up until Christmas. She has urged the health secretary and the government to join her union at the negotiating table “very quickly”.

The RCN has rejected calls from ministers to pause strike action, with Ms Cullen saying she had received a letter from Mr Barclay requesting that just half-an-hour before she came on air. She said the letter was “disrespectful” to nurses and claimed the health secretary had spent longer writing in the Sun on Sunday newspaper than responding to nurses.

NHS bosses have warned that a nurses’ strike including emergency care staff would “present serious risks and challenges”. Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper said the warning of rolling nurses’ strikes up until Christmas “must act as a wake-up call” and ministers should “urgently” find a solution. In Scotland, union members have accepted an offer worth an average 6.5% for 2023-24. Health unions in Wales and Northern Ireland are still in negotiations with their governments over pay.

The RCN has made it clear that it will not pause its 48-hour strike in England over the first May bank holiday. The union is calling for more money from the government and for nurses to be treated with respect. NHS bosses have warned of serious risks if emergency care staff are included in the strike action.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has expressed his worry over the strike action, citing risks to patient safety. Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper has urged ministers to find a solution urgently in order to avoid rolling strikes up until Christmas. In Scotland, union members have accepted an offer worth an average 6.5% for 2023-24, while health unions in Wales and Northern Ireland are still in negotiations with their governments over pay.