The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has asked the government for at least a 17% pay rise, due to the rising staff shortage and working conditions.

Over 300,000 RCN members have signed this strike ballot, making it the largest protest in the union’s century-long existence.

The RCN has claimed their aim is to ‘secure fair pay for nursing’.

The salary of an experienced nurse has decreased by 20% since 2010, according to recent statistics.

When are the strikes scheduled?

The strikes are planned for the 15th and 20th of December, across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

While in Scotland, pay negotiations are continuing before industrial action is confirmed.

How many are involved in the strike?

As of recently, the RCN has stated that roughly 100,000 nurses plan to strike.

The union has emphasised how their strike will only increase in size if the government fails to meet their needs.

The government’s response:

Steve Barclay, the health secretary, has refused to further negotiate about nurse’s pay.

He instead suggested that the NHS invest in artificial intelligence to help solve staff shortages.

Barclay argued the NHS needs to take more on “vested interests” to fight record-breaking waiting lists.

A cabinet minister echoes this, stating that there “is simply not enough money” to meet the RCN’s needs.

The military’s potential involvement:

As a result of ambulance drivers and paramedics also striking, there is a high risk that a large number of appointments will be cancelled.

In response to this, the government has suggested calling for the military to help the healthcare sector.

This is still yet to be confirmed whether or not it will go ahead.

However, it wouldn’t be the first time the military was called.

For example, during the pandemic, the military helped test and deliver protective equipment.

An RCN spokesperson spoke on this: “When the government would rather send for the military than negotiate with nurses, their priorities are seriously amiss”.

Latest response:

Steve Barclay has urged for the strike not to go ahead and has offered to negotiate about other conditions e.g. pension arrangements, holidays, rosters, and free coffee.

As the strike is still scheduled to go ahead, a government spokesperson explains “planned appointments may need to be cancelled and emergency care prioritised to those in need of urgent care only”.

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