Thousands of nurses in the United Kingdom will resist the awful working conditions they have been exposed to for several months.
Around 100,000 nurses in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales have gone on strike for two days against their employers. They have reached a tipping point, according to the organization. Their modest earnings cannot keep up with growing commodity costs, especially when the country’s inflation rate is high. The strike will take place on the 15th and 20th of December.
The Royal College of Nursing, the country’s largest nursing union, has many nurses as members. The strike will be the first in the company’s 106-year history. This is primarily due to the poor financial conditions that have hampered these professionals’ daily lives. The epidemic has been ongoing for more than two years. Many healthcare personnel was affected by the lockdowns. Despite their sacrifices to save countless people’s lives, they are underpaid.
“Government rejects option to avert nursing strikes by choosing not to enter formal pay negotiations. As a result, strikes in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will happen on 15 and 20 December,” the RCN said in a news release.
“Last night (12 December), RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen met with Health Secretary Steve Barclay with hopes of beginning formal pay negotiations, which could have averted strike action. However, Mr. Barclay refused to discuss pay, and therefore strikes will go ahead as planned on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December,” it added.
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Calling to increase the wages of nurses
Following the discussion, the RCN chief executive assured colleagues that she had done her utmost to negotiate their benefits and salary hike with the UK Health Secretary. On the other hand, the government appeared hesitant to pay the nurses what they were owed. Before the meeting, Cullen stated her openness to collaborating with the government to improve nurses’ working and wage arrangements.
“I asked several times to discuss pay, and each time we returned to the same thing – that there was no extra money on the table and that they would not be discussing pay with me,” Cullen said.
“I needed to come out of this meeting with something serious to show nursing staff why they should not strike this week. Regrettably, they’re not getting an extra penny. Ministers had too little to say, and I had to speak at length about the unprecedented strength of feeling in the profession.”
“I expressed my deep disappointment at the belligerence that was shown – they closed their books and walked away.”
In a press statement, the RCN asked nurses to strike in protest. However, they also stated that the strike would go forward and would only be called off if the government showed evidence of involvement. For example, the union called a halt to strikes in Scotland when the government reached out to the nurses to negotiate. Unfortunately, officials in many locations kept mum on the subject.
“Nursing is the largest safety-critical profession in health care, playing a vital role in patient care. Despite this, nursing remains understaffed and undervalued. After years of underinvestment, the government must act urgently to protect patient care by protecting the profession,” the RCN said.
“The Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is about: (1) recognizing that salaries of nursing professionals have consistently fallen below inflation – a fact which is being exacerbated by the cost of living crisis – and must now rise significantly to reflect that.
(2) valuing the training, qualifications, skills, responsibilities and experience demonstrated everyday by nursing staff.
(3) ensuring that nursing is seen as an attractive, rewarding profession to tackle the tens of thousands of unfilled nursing posts.
(4) the campaign aims to secure a pay increase that is 5% above inflation (measured by RPI).”
‘Our nurses are not okay’
Lauran Ghazal, a nurse from New York, expressed similar concerns in an opinion piece published earlier this year. She claims that more than 4 million nurses in the United States are in the same predicament as health workers in the United Kingdom. Inflation and the epidemic compound their low income and poor working conditions.
“I know this firsthand. I am a family nurse practitioner as well as a researcher. Unfortunately, over the past few months, as Omicron cases have spiked, my colleagues and I have been stretched to our limits,” she said.
“Inside the hospitals and clinics where I work, however, the reality is much different. For nurses, 2022 can often feel far grimmer than what we experienced at the start of the pandemic. We have vaccines and more PPE now, yes, but being on the front lines of waves of infections has carried an extreme physical and emotional burden that’s leading to immense burnout,” she added.
Ghazal stated that conditions for Covid have improved, with several therapies now accessible to sufferers. However, nurses and other healthcare employees continue to experience burnout. This is due to patient overcrowding in hospitals.
“While my colleagues and I are doing everything we can to treat patients despite our own exhaustion, there are still patients filling waiting rooms who have not gotten vaccinated or taken preventive measures such as wearing masks to protect themselves and help curb the influx of new Covid-19 hospitalizations.”
“And while some of the public may choose to be “done” with the pandemic, or live as though it doesn’t exist, for health care workers like myself there has been no escape.”