Members eligible to vote in the ballot have found out by email today (9 November) whether strike action will happen where they work.
Members vote to strike at majority of NHS employers across the UK
Overall results show members at the majority of NHS employers across the UK have voted to take strike action in their fight for fair pay and safe staffing. Strikes will now take place at the NHS trusts or health boards that have met the relevant legal requirements.
Many of the biggest hospitals in England will see strike action by RCN members but others narrowly missed the legal turnout thresholds to qualify for action.
All NHS employers in Northern Ireland and Scotland will be included and all bar one in Wales met the relevant legal thresholds.
Members working at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, opposite the House of Commons, will be taking strike action as well as members working at other leading hospitals in capital cities of the UK – the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Industrial action is expected to begin before the end of this year, with more detailed plans and timelines announced shortly.
The RCN will ensure that strike action is carried out legally and safely at all times. Our mandate to organise strikes runs until early May 2023, six months after members finished voting.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “I want to thank every member who took part in, or supported, this ballot. You can be very proud. The results are strong and clear.
“This is a defining moment in our history, and our fight will continue through strike action and beyond for as long as it takes to win justice for the nursing profession and our patients.
“Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough. The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.
“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this. While we plan our strike action, next week’s budget is the UK government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point.
“This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
“We are all hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, including nurses, and deeply regret that some union members have voted for industrial action.
“These are challenging times, which is why we accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body in full and have given over one million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year. 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.
“Our priority is keeping patients safe during any strikes. The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.”
The postal ballot took place between 6 October and 2 November and was called following NHS Agenda for Change pay announcements earlier this year, which left experienced nurses 20% worse off in real terms compared to a decade ago.
We’re campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above RPI inflation to overcome those real-terms pay cuts, support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis and recognise their safety critical skills.
There are several voluntary strike support roles that we’ll be recruiting to in the coming weeks. Look out for ways to get involved as we prepare for strike action and share our campaign resources to remind your friends and family that our fight for fair pay is also a fight for patient safety.