Nurses across Britain will go on strike today, as the dispute over fair pay continues.
The walk-out will impact operations at 44 NHS trusts in the country, including Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in London – at the busiest time of year for the NHS.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union voted in favour of the historic strike at the beginning of November.
A strike of this scale among nurses has not happened for 100 years.
With negotiations frozen, union leader Pat Cullen warned that strikes will go on into the new year if the government doesn’t want to negotiate.
Nurses are after a 19 per cent pay rise to account for inflation and to try and attract more staff into the profession.
However, health minister Maria Caulfield told Sky News this morning that the government “cannot afford that 19 per cent” pay rise.
Carmel O’Boyle, chair of the north west branch of the RCN, told Sky News: “This has been a very difficult time… This has been a horrible decision to make and it’s not something we ever wanted to do. We hoped [health secretary] Steve Barclay would have negotiations with us.”
Medical operations will not just be cancelled today, she said, but they were cancelled yesterday and will continue to be cancelled over a lack of staff.
“Today is really no different. We are stretched everyday… This is about getting a fair pay so we can recruit and retain nurses,” she said.