The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced that its first strike action will commence on Thursday December 15 and Tuesday December 20.
Hospitals across the region will be affected.
It will be the largest walkout in the history of the NHS after nurses voted to take action over pay disputes. According to RCN, despite receiving a £1,400 pay rise, experienced nurses are worse off by a fifth in real terms due to successive below-inflation awards since 2010.
Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, said: “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.
“The RCN says the economic argument for paying nursing staff fairly is clear when billions of pounds is being spent on agency staff to plug workforce gaps.
“In the last year, 25,000 nursing staff around the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register. Poor pay contributes to staff shortages across the UK, affecting patient safety. There are 47,000 unfilled registered nurse posts in England’s NHS alone.”
Nurses in hospital trusts across the region are striking, including:
- Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
- Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Found Trust
- The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Found Trust
- Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust
- Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust
- Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Found Trust
- Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
- St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
- Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
- The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
- NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB
- Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
In the Liverpool City Region, only Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust and Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust did not get enough votes to join the strike action.
Midwives are also proposing to take industrial action, with a ballot currently in circulation. The RCM reiterated that should members vote for industrial action, they will not be asked to break their Nursing and Midwifery code of conduct and safe services will be maintained.
Shift leader on Ormskirk hospital’s maternity ward Lesley Ashton said: “I fully understand the need for strike action. However, personally because of the job I do, I won’t strike as I will be leaving a maternity unit and labour ward without cover.
“This would be detrimental to patient health and the care they receive in labour.”
- There will also be bin strikes in Wirral from next week as Biffa workers demand an end to low pay. According to Unite the Union: “HGV drivers being paid just £11.95 an hour, refuse operatives £11.50 and street operatives only £10.76. The workers are seeking a 15 per cent increase in pay to reset their pay rates and tackle the cost-of-living crisis.”
Workers will begin strike action on Monday December 5 and will likely end on Saturday December 10. If the dispute is not resolved there will likely be further action.
Unite regional officer Kenny Rowe said: “The strike action will inevitably cause huge disruption to the residents of Wirral but this dispute is entirely of Biffa’s and the council’s own making. Biffa has had every opportunity to make a fair pay offer and end low pay but it has declined to do so.”
Featured image © Ciara Bolton