Nurses in the UK are set to stage a 48-hour walkout on December 18th and 19th as part of their ongoing industrial action. The strike, organised by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union, will affect patient care in England, with nurses refusing to work shifts over the two days in protest of pay cuts and long working hours.
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The RCN has said they have been left with no choice but to take this drastic step due to government inaction and a refusal to address their concerns. They argue that nurses have seen their wages stagnate despite rising living costs whilst workloads continue to increase. RCN chief executive Donna Kinnair commented, “We are taking this course of action reluctantly, and we urge the government to take this opportunity to reach a negotiated settlement with us before a further disruption occurs.”
The strike will cause significant disruption in England, with some hospitals having to close or redirect services as they cannot cover shifts over the two days. The Department of Health and Social Care have said they were disappointed that the RCN had chosen to go down this route but accepted that patient safety must remain their priority. The department has urged all employers affected by the strike to “do everything possible” to minimise disruption and ensure patients receive safe care.
Nurses feel let down by the government, which has failed to address their grievances despite repeated warnings from the RCN about the impact of low pay, long hours and lack of resources. This month’s strike action is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg if these issues are not addressed shortly.
The RCN has asked members to remain vigilant and prepared for further industrial action, including possible all-out strikes if their demands are unmet. It remains to be seen whether this escalation will come to pass or if both sides can find a resolution before it escalates. In either case, nurses need real change now so that they can provide the best care possible for patients across England
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