Will pre-Christmas nursing strikes happen at YOUR hospital?

Will pre-Christmas nursing strikes happen at YOUR hospital? List reveals where 100,000 NHS medics will walk-out on December 15 and 20

  • Nurses voted to strike at 176 hospitals and health organisations across the UK
  • However, the RCN has now revealed walk-outs will happen at just 76 locations
  • Patients won’t have ops cancelled last minute due to strikes, NHS bosses say

Patients and the NHS will suffer less disruption than feared when nurses go on strike next month.

The Royal College of Nursing today revealed its members will only walk-outs at half of the sites in England that have secured a mandate for industrial action.

A sufficient number of nurses had voted in favour of striking at around 176 hospitals and health organisations across the UK, prompting leaders to order industrial action on December 15 and 20.

Health bosses warn strikes will put lives at risk and force them to cancel tests and operations at a time when a record 7.1million people are on waiting lists.

The Royal College of Nursing announced the first in a series of walk outs over pay will take place on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December

The Royal College of Nursing is demanding a 19 per cent pay increase for its members and says devastating NHS strikes will begin this winter unless ministers enter ‘formal pay negotiations’ with in the next five days.

This graph shows the Royal College of Nursing’s demands for a 5 per cent above inflation pay rise for the bands covered by its membership which includes healthcare assistants and nurses. Estimates based on NHS Employers data

What was the result of the RCN ballot?

Nurses at the majority of NHS organisations on the ballot voted to strike – 176 out of 311 NHS employers across the UK. 

Some did not meet the 50 per cent turnout threshold.

When will strikes be held?

Two strike days have been announced, December 15 and 20. 

The action will be held across half of the NHS employers in England that voted to strike.

Nurses at all but one NHS employer in Wales and all in Northern Ireland will also take to the picket line.

Strike action in Scotland has not been announced after the Government there committed to further pay talks.  

Could more strikes days be on the way?

The union has warned the number of NHS employers hit by strikes will increase in January unless the Government commits to pay negotiations. 

What level of care can patients expect?

The RCN says nursing provision during the strike period should be equal to the skeleton staffing usually seen on Christmas Day, although the NHS says it has well-tested procedures to limit disruption.

Emergency care is expected to be maintained but other services and planned care could be disrupted. 

Which nurses will remain in post?

Emergency nurses in A&E and intensive care will keep working, as will district nurses who help elderly people in the community. Other exemptions will be negotiated at a local level.

Why are nurses going on strike?

The RCN is campaigning for a pay rise of five per cent above inflation which is currently about 14 per cent.

The union claims an experienced nurse’s salary has fallen by 20 per cent since 2010.

What is the pay deal they are unhappy with?

Nurses in England and Wales received a pay increase of at least £1,400 this year, but the RCN claims this left them effectively working a day a week for free.

What’s the Government doing about the situation?

Health secretary Steve Barclay has insisted his ‘door is open’ to resume talks with unions to avert strike action but has added that the RCN’s demands are unaffordable. 

Have there been nursing strikes before?

Yes – some nurses from the union UNISON went on strike in 2014 and RCN nurses in Northern Ireland walked out in 2019 but this is the first time the RCN has balloted all its 300,000 members in all UK countries in its 106-year history.

Who could be next to strike?

Hundreds of thousands of junior doctors, midwives, physiotherapists, paramedics, ICT staff and porters are among NHS staff either being balloted or expected to be balloted on strike action over anger about pay rises. The next result is expected to be from Unison, which closed its ballot on November 25 after asking 350,000 NHS workers whether they want to strike.

However, the RCN has now said fewer than 100,000 nurses will go on strike at just 76 locations.

This includes half of those where they could legally take action in England, all of those in Wales except one and throughout Northern Ireland.

It has suspended action in Scotland after the Government there made an improved pay offer.

The RCN said the number of NHS employers affected will increase in January unless further negotiations are held.

It failed to give a reason for scaling back industrial action nor explained how it had decided which places should strike now and which should wait.

Pat Cullen, RCN chief executive, said: ‘Ministers have declined my offer of formal pay negotiations and instead chosen strike action.

‘It has left us with no choice but to announce where our members will be going on strike in December.

‘Nursing is standing up for the profession and their patients. 

‘We’ve had enough of being taken for granted and being unable to provide the care patients deserve.

  • Read: Patients won’t have ops cancelled last minute due to strikes, NHS bosses say

‘Ministers still have the power and the means to stop this by opening negotiations that address our dispute.’

The Government announced this summer that nurses would receive a roughly four per cent, or £1,400, pay rise following an independent pay review process.

But the RCN is demanding that the rise is increased to five per cent above RPI inflation, which currently stands at 14.2 per cent.

Under the Government’s plans, the average nurse’s pay would rise from £35,600 to £37,000. 

But the RCN want it boosted to £42,400, the equivalent of roughly an extra £6,835, which would cost taxpayers £10billion, according to official estimates.

Meanwhile, the head of the the NHS has said patients will not have procedures cancelled at the last minute due to the nurses’ strikes, but care will have to be postponed.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, told MPs she could not confirm how far in advance patients would be notified about any changes to upcoming treatment.

Addressing the public accounts committee, she said efforts would be made to inform them ‘sooner rather than later’.

Mike Prentice, NHS England’s national director for emergency, planning and incident response, sent a letter yesterday to hospitals and care providers, warning the walkouts could result in the postponement of urgent surgery, chemotherapy and kidney dialysis.

Time-critical services for seriously ill patients may also be scaled back or stopped, the letter warned. 

It comes amid reports that Armed Forces personnel could drive ambulances and stand in for frontline hospital roles during the NHS strikes.

The strikes comes as NHS bosses warn the health service faces ‘its most challenging winter ever’ with the ‘tripledemic’ of flu, Covid and record demand on urgent and emergency services. 

The latest NHS data shows influenza levels in hospitals for the first week of winter data are already 10 times as high as the equivalent period last year, and twice as high as last winter’s peak.

Strikes, and the resulting impact on planned care could also exacerbate the record waiting list for routine care, such as hip and knee operations.

Official figures show a record 7.1million people in England are now in the queue for routine hospital treatment.

This is the equivalent of on in eight people in the country. 

The data, which goes up to the end of September, also includes more than 400,000 people who have been waiting, often in pain, for over one year.

Official figures show 7.1million people in England were in the queue for routine hospital treatment, such as hip and knee operations, by the end of September — the equivalent of one in eight people (red line). The figure includes more than 400,000 people who have been waiting, often in pain, for over one year (yellow bars)




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