Around 300,000 nurses in the UK are about to be balloted about whether to go on strike in a move which could cause serious disruption for the NHS over the busy winter months.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is balloting its members for the first time in its 106-year history about potential strike action and is recommending that they vote to strike.
In July the Government offered a 5% pay rise for most NHS staff–a minimum £1,400 salary increase for frontline personnel according to government ministers. However the RCN says nurses should get a rise of 5% above inflation, which stands at 10.1% as of October 2022.
The ballot is open until 2 November and the result will be announced shortly afterwards. To enable them to take strike action, 50% of all members balloted in England and Scotland have to vote, with 40% voting in favour of a strike before the walkouts can go ahead legally. Nurses are not the only group of NHS workers to threaten strike action–junior doctors and physiotherapists are among those who may strike over pay.
Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the RCN, told members: "This is a once in a generation chance to improve your pay and combat the staff shortages that put patients at risk.
“Governments have repeatedly neglected the NHS and the value of nursing. We can change this if together we say ‘enough is enough’.
“Record numbers are feeling no alternative but to quit and patients pay a heavy price. We are doing this for them too.”
The union is inviting members of the public to co-sign a letter to Prime Minister Liz Truss to show support for the RCN's position.
During any strike action, some nurses would keep working to make sure that emergency and urgent services can still carry on.