Nurses strike: RCN members at St Thomas’ Hospital in London
Tens of thousands of nurses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland took part in the first national strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on Thursday, December 16. Their dispute over pay has been opposed by three-quarters of Express.co.uk readers, a new poll has found.
The first of two scheduled days of industrial action went ahead after talks to secure an above-inflation pay rise of 19 percent ended in deadlock. A second day is due to take place on Tuesday, December 20.
RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said: “For many of us, this is our first time striking and our emotions are really mixed. The NHS is in crisis, the nursing profession can’t take any more, our loved ones are already suffering. It is not unreasonable to demand better. This is not something that can wait. We are committed to our patients and always will be.”
Speaking on a picket line, she told the BBC that it was a “tragic day” for nurses, patients, society, and the NHS.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the Government is “hugely grateful” for the work nurses do but that a 19 percent pay rise is “not affordable”. He added that it is “deeply regrettable” for union members to go ahead with the strike action.
READ MORE: Nurse strikes to continue next year if pay talks don’t begin
Three-quarters of Express.co.uk readers do not support nurses going on strike
In a poll that ran from 9am on Wednesday, December 14, to 10am on Friday, December 16, Express.co.uk asked readers: “Do you support the nurses strike?”
Overall, 6,523 votes were cast with the vast majority of readers, 75 percent (4,869 people) answering “no” against the industrial action.
Whereas, 25 percent (1,605 people) voted “yes” in support of the strikes and a further 49 people said they did not know either way.
Hundreds of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers shared their thoughts in a lively debate.
Nurses took part in the largest strike in NHS history on Thursday, December 15
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the Government is ‘hugely grateful’ for the work nurses do
Many readers argued against the strike action, with username Tatiana commenting: “It is highly unethical for those employed to save lives to go on strike.”
Similarly, username not1tomoan said: “Emergency services should not have the right to strike. Lives will be lost as a direct result of these people tasking days off.”
Another, username oak, wrote: “The NHS workers are paid enough. Think it is disgusting that they are holding the country to ransom.”
And username Warwick Shire, said: “No support from here. They know how much they’re going to earn when they take on the job. They’re just getting greedy.”
Meanwhile, username Norfolk Boy said: “I sincerely believe that the Nurses and all medical staff deserve a decent rate of pay but, as a patient, I cannot support a strike.”
Others thought that the NHS needed to be reformed, with username SanjayP said: “Nurses should be better paid. But holding patients to ransom is not the answer. The NHS needs radical reform to survive in the long run.
Likewise, username wilfred01 said: “This could be a good time to restructure.”
And username Shotorod added: “I don’t want this NHS. I want a 21st-century streamlined service.”
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A second day is due to take place on Tuesday, December 20
Fewer than two thirds of arrivals in Scottish A&Es are now seen within four hours on a regular basis, as over a thousand a week wait longer than 12 hours, causing many to accuse the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon of a failure to act.
What has happened to the NHS in Scotland? Find out HERE.
However, some readers were in support of the nurses on strike. Username
Username Sir Walter Skinner OBE said: “I support the nurses, they have been a godsend through very difficult times.”
Username Strong like bull added that they “support our hero nurses and their right to a fair pay.”
While Username Put our grandchildren first wrote: “Yes I do support the nurses and all the others on strike. [The Government] should be prepared to spend taxpayers money on usful services to provide massive pay deals for nurses, teachers and all the other public sector workers on strike.”
And username Worldwatcher said: “The nurses have been left no choice. The Government has not listened to them and their specific needs and grievances for decades and the end result of that is a strike.”
An estimated 70,000 appointments, procedures and surgeries were cancelled by the strike action
The strike action on Thursday cancelled an estimated 70,000 appointments, procedures, and surgeries.
Some service areas including mental health, learning disability and autism services were exempt from the stike and staff on chemotherapy, emergency cancer services, dialysis, critical care units, neonatal, and paediatric intensive care units were reduced with many working a Christmas Day-style rota.
Danny Mortimer, the NHS Employers chief executive, said in a letter to NHS trusts on Wednesday, December 14: “Unless the Government indicates a willingness to negotiate on pay-related matters, further strike dates will be announced by the RCN for January 2023 and beyond.
“It is likely that these strikes will be for a longer time period on each occasion and will cover a greater number of organisations [NHS trusts] in England.”