Biggest nurse strike due next month if UK gov't neglects pay demands
Although the union is requesting a 19% raise and stated it would accept a minimum of 10%, Sunak's administration reportedly considers a one-off payment instead.
Union bosses in the UK warned of more nurse strikes for next month February if negotiations with the government do not reach a beneficial point soon.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union stated that February's possible walkout would witness the RCN's biggest to date, as its general secretary Pat Cullen assured that the public supported the pay protests and pointed fingers at PM Rishi Sunak for his "baffling" approach to the discussions.
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The reason she called it "baffling" is because although the union requested a 19% raise and stated it would accept a minimum of 10%, Sunak's administration reportedly considered a one-off payment instead. It is even pushing for anti-strike laws requiring minimum levels of service on strike days.
"The nurse shortage costs lives - Sunak cannot put a price on a safe NHS," Cullen said.
Newly-appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his "enormous respect" for nurses, medical and NHS workers, but simultaneously described their requests as "obviously unaffordable" considering current economic and political situations.
Sunak insists that demanding a pay raise will worsen the already-devastating inflation, adding that the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) has also considered future inflation. He stated last month: "I’ve acknowledged it is difficult, it’s difficult for everybody because inflation is where it is. And the best way to help them and help everyone else in the country is for us to get a grip and reduce inflation as quickly as possible."
Nurse shortages equal patient mortality
The RCN confirmed that if the protest is carried out on February 6, it would coincide with the 10th anniversary of the first investigation into the way in which nurse shortages directly affected patient mortality rates.
The Robert Francis inquiry, focused on Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, discovered that hundreds of patients were being neglected at Stafford Hospital between the years 2005 and 2009 with elderly people lying in their own urine and unable to eat, drink or take medicine.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson demonstrated no sign of an alternative approach on Saturday, as it previously relayed that more than one million NHS workers received a minimum £1,400 pay rise this year and added: "This is on top of a 3% pay increase last year when public sector pay was frozen and wider government support with the cost of living."
Per media reports, the UK military has been asked to fill in staff gaps in health services and institutions.
In Northern Ireland, no current plans exist for any walkouts, since there is no executive in place where negotiations are already taking place. Healthcare unions in Scotland canceled their strike in December and accepted the pay raise deal proposed by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.