Over the weekend The Observer newspaper broke the news that nurses have voted in favour of the biggest nursing strike in NHS history. Union officials reported that 'large swathes of the country' had voted to go on strike.
More than 300,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) were balloted about strike action and, although ballots are still being counted, officials are expected to announce shortly that most nurses have voted to strike. The ballot was called after the RCN asked for nurses, struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, to receive a pay rise of 5% plus inflation, which would equate to around 15% in total. The government offered a rise of around 4%. Union officials say that since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, some nurses have experienced a 20% decrease in pay in real terms.
Unison is also balloting 350,000 members of NHS staff including nurses, porters, paramedics and cleaners on potential strike action with the results expected later this month. Junior doctors have also voted for a ballot at the start of next year.
NHS England wrote to its trusts and integrated care boards last week about potential strike action. It said: "The NHS’s task now is to be prepared for any potential industrial action so there is minimal disruption to patient care and emergency services can continue to operate as normal.”