Saturday, 25 Mar 2023

Nurses insist they will strike as ‘long as it takes’

Nurses and ambulance workers continue strikes across England

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Nurses have warned they will strike for “as long as it takes” after ministers ruled out increasing current pay rates. Some 80,000 appointments and 11,000 inpatient operations were cancelled as the NHS was on Monday hit by the biggest industrial action in its history.

The Royal College of Nursing said Rishi Sunak was “choosing strikes over talking”.

General secretary Pat Cullen said support for nursing staff is “strong” and warned the Government it should not “expect this to diminish”.

She said: “This is in the hands of the Prime Minister.

“I sent that out in a letter to him on Saturday night, and I await his response, but he really really needs now to put an urgency to this, get around a table, negotiate or call off the strikes. He’s choosing strikes over talking.”

Ms Cullen added that she had “the strongest mandate of any nursing profession throughout the world, so they will continue to do this for as long as it takes for this Government to actually wake up and listen”.

The RCN walkouts were staged alongside industrial action by GMB and Unite paramedics, call handlers and other staff at ambulance trusts.

Nurses will also strike on Tuesday, physiotherapists on Thursday and ambulance staff on Friday.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said trusts were planning for an “incredibly disrupted week”.

She urged the Government to negotiate with unions on 2022-23 pay because it “was made at a time when inflation wasn’t at the levels it’s at the moment. So I think it’s really important that we focus on getting a deal for this year, as well as then thinking about what next year’s pay deal looks like.”

But at Kingston Hospital in south-west London, Health Secretary Steve Barclay ruled out reopening 2022-23 pay.

He said: “I don’t think it’s right to go back to last year, back to April, retrospectively. We should be looking forward to the pay review body that is taking evidence now and working constructively with the trade unions.

“We accepted in full the recommendations made last year.”

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