The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced the largest strike in England’s pay conflict. Half of its members in hospitals, mental health services, and community services will participate in the 48-hour strike from March 1 to 3.
According to the BBC, the union will also ask members who work in critical care and chemotherapy to participate in strike action for the first time. Ministers have accused the union of endangering patients. “We are collaborating closely with NHS England to develop contingency measures, but this move will certainly cause additional disruptions,” said Health Secretary Steve Barclay.
During the RCN’s previous six strikes, dialysis, neonatal care, intensive care, pediatrics, A&E, and chemotherapy were exempt from strike action. Any service desiring RCN members to give life-and-limb coverage, as mandated by trade unions legislation, will also be forced to negotiate with union officials rather than establishing local agreements with local reps.
The RCN believes that this has resulted in an excess of local exemptions, particularly in sectors such as adult A&E. Instead, services will be required to hire nurses who are not RCN members or other health professionals to provide coverage during the strike.
Once these options have been explored, the RCN will agree to grant coverage. This is the first time the RCN has announced a 48-hour continuous strike. There have been two consecutive days of interruptions, but each lasted only 12 hours. This strike will impact over a hundred services, encompassing all places where the RCN has a mandate.
During the strike ballot, each trust held a separate vote. In over half of the trusts, the votes did not meet the threshold necessary for action to be taken. Pat Cullen, general secretary of the RCN, stated, “It is with a heavy heart that I have requested more nurses to join this strike today.”
The RCN requested a pay increase of 5% above inflation, but the government handed personnel below the level of doctors an average of 4.75 percent. But, the union has stopped strikes in Scotland and Wales because new proposals have been made, despite the fact that they fall far short of its demands.
Northern Ireland, whose employees received a 4.75 percent pay raise, is now without a government, thus, no strike action is going place there. Matthew Taylor, chief executive officer of the NHS Confederation, which represents health administrators, stated, “The stakes have risen, and NHS executives are growing increasingly anxious about the expanding waves of strike action.”