Nurses strike could be twice as big in February, RCN say

Leaders of the nurses union have warned that double the number of nurses will walk out compared to the first strike if no agreement is made with the Government.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said that if progress is not made in negotiations by the end of January, the next set of strikes will include all eligible members in England for the first time.

It is likely that this larger strike will take place in February if no progress is made in negotiations around pay and conditions.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen described the Prime Minister’s position in their negotiation deadlock as “baffling, reckless and politically ill-considered”.

York Press: Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital in London back in December 2022Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London back in December 2022 (Image: PA)

She said: “The Prime Minister gave nursing staff a little optimism that he was beginning to move, but seven days later he appears entirely uninterested in finding a way to stop this.

“The public supports nurses because of just how much nurses give to the public.

“Rishi Sunak’s intransigence is baffling, reckless and politically ill-considered.

“Nursing staff just wanted to be valued and recognised.

“Without, they will keep leaving in record numbers with consequences for patients that Robert Francis documented in painful detail.

“The nurse shortage costs lives – Sunak cannot put a price on a safe NHS.”

When could the next nurses’ strike be?

The RCN has said the next strike is likely to be on February 6, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Robert Francis inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust and the impact of nurse shortages on patient mortality.

The inquiry uncovered the neglect of hundreds of patients at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009, with accounts of some elderly people being left lying in their own urine, unable to eat, drink or take essential medication.

Nurses in Wales are also expected to strike in February following a month without industrial action.

The RCN is not planning to stage strikes in Northern Ireland, where there is no executive in place, or in Scotland, where action remains paused as negotiations continue.

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