Nurses’ strikes may continue until Christmas, RCN union leader warns

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Watch: Strike Action Won’t Be Paused – Pat Cullen

The leader of the Royal College of Nursing said nurses could strike until Christmas, as she warned she would not stop a 48-hour strike in England during the first bank holiday in May.

Secretary-General Pat Cullen told the BBC the government needed to put more money on the table.

But she “had no plans” to coordinate strikes with those of junior doctors.

Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said the government’s wage offer was “fair and reasonable”.

Asked if this was the final offer, he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuensberg that the government needed to wait to see what other NHS unions involved in the pay dispute decided on the ballot, and indicated it had already been accepted by members of the public. Unison.

The government has offered a pay rise of 5% in 2023/24 and a one-off payment of at least £1,655.

The leader of the RCN had initially called for the deal to be accepted, but members voted to reject it by 54% to 46%, while the federation unions and GMB will announce the result of the ballot in two weeks.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told the same program he was “really concerned” about the nurses’ strike rather than supporting it because of the risks to patient safety.

The RCN strike will include NHS nurses in emergency, intensive care, cancer and other departments, which will be a first as the previous nurses’ strike in February included exemptions to keep staff in critical areas.

Speaking to Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Hands said the offer amounted to an extra £5,100 for a typical NHS band 5 worker.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay also said In a letter to RCN That a nurse at the top of Band 5 would earn ‘over £5,000’ extra.

He added that he would welcome a meeting with the RCN and feared that exemptions from the strike would not “endanger patients”.

Ms Cullen said that after withdrawing from 20:00 GMT on April 30 to 20:00 on May 2, the union would move immediately to get our members to vote on the next step.

“If this vote is successful, it will mean more strikes until Christmas,” she added.

She rejected calls from ministers to stop the strike temporarily, and revealed that she had received a letter from Mr Barclay requesting it half an hour before she went on air.

She said the letter was “disrespectful” to the nurses and alleged that the Minister of Health had spent more time Writing in the sun on sunday A newspaper from the nurses answer.

Barclay warned in the newspaper that the strikes would mean more operations being canceled and treatment delayed – and “none of this is good for the NHS or the patients”.

Ms Cullen urged the health secretary and government to get her union to the negotiating table “very quickly”, adding: “And start putting more money on the table, start treating nurses with some decency and a little bit of respect”.

Asked why RCN nurses had rejected the government’s payment offer despite it being recommended by the union leadership, Ms Cullen said members believed it was “unfair and unreasonable”.

This comes a day after a four-day strike by junior doctors – who are demanding a 35% pay rise – ended.

The British Medical Association, which represents junior doctors, said on Saturday it was “not ruling out or ruling out” the possibility of coordinating work with other unions.

Asked if that was a possibility, Cullen said she had no plans for any coordinated action.

“But if the government continues to allow doctors and nurses to spend their time on strike lines rather than at their workplaces in hospitals and communities, the impact of those strikes, whether coordinated or not, will of course be felt by our patients.”

Sir Julian Hartley of NHS Providers, which represents NHS workers, said it would constitute an “unprecedented level of action” and warned of a coordinated strike with junior doctors.

Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper said the warning nurses’ strikes would continue until Christmas “should serve as a wake-up call” and ministers must find a solution “urgently”.

In Scotland, union members have accepted an offer of 6.5% on average for 2023-24. Health unions in Wales and Northern Ireland are still negotiating wages with their respective governments.

The GMB Federation has recommended its members to accept the latest offer.

Unite did not recommend the wage deal, but says “it’s important in the end that members make the final decision.”

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