Thousands of nurses will continue to strike on Thursday as part of their industrial action against the Government. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced that two further, bigger strikes will be held next month, while the GMB union is expected to announce further ambulance worker strike dates this afternoon. Junior doctors are also preparing to walk out.
The union said that if there is no progress with their demands, the strike action will be escalated on February 6 and 7 to include members at 73 NHS trusts in England and all but one NHS employer in Wales.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “Today’s strike action by nursing staff is a modest escalation before a sharp increase in under three weeks from now.
“If a week is a long time for Rishi Sunak, three weeks is the time he needs to get this resolved.
“People aren’t dying because nurses are striking.
“Nurses are striking because people are dying.
“That is how severe things are in the NHS and it is time the Prime Minister led a fight for its future.
“Today’s record number of unfilled nurse jobs cannot be left to get worse.
“Pay nursing staff fairly to turn this around and give the public the care they deserve.”
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Writing in The Independent, he said: “If we provide unaffordable pay rises to NHS staff, we will take billions of pounds away from where we need it most. Unaffordable pay hikes will mean cutting patient care and stoking the inflation that would make us all poorer.”
Separately, Mr Barclay has signaled that pay negotiations will look ahead to next year rather than reflecting on the 2022/23 pay award, which unions have said must be reviewed.
The strike action comes as Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, urged ministers to renew pay talks with unions in a bid to halt further industrial action.
He suggested waiting lists are likely to remain stubbornly high unless the government gives the “NHS a fighting chance”.