100,000 nurses take part in the largest strike today in NHS history

Nurses have seen their pay fall by £5,000 in real terms since 2010 according to the TUC.

NHS strike

Up to 100,000 nurses are taking strike action today across England, Wales and Northern Ireland over poor pay and to protect patient safety.

Picket lines have been set up across dozens of hospitals, with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the biggest nursing union, staging its first ever walk out in its 106-year history.

Nurses have seen their pay fall by £5,000 in real terms since 2010 according to the TUC, with 1 in 3 nurses struggling to heat their homes and keep food on the table.

The RCN is calling for a 19 percent wage hike — or inflation plus 5 percent, as they would put it, however it has also indicated that it would be willing to accept a lower offer.

The union offered to suspend the strikes if the government returned to the negotiating table to discuss pay, however the Tories have buried their head in the sand, insisting that pay is non-negotiable and that it could not afford what the RCN is demanding.

Although thousands of NHS appointments and operations have been cancelled as a result of the strikes, the RCN has that it will still staff chemotherapy, emergency cancer services, dialysis, critical care units, neonatal and paediatric intensive care.

Union leader Pat Cullen told Sky News yesterday that nurses would continue to strike into January if the government refuses to negotiate on pay.

She told The Take with Sophy Ridge: “Nurses are on the breadline, they can’t afford to pay their bills, some of them can’t even afford to travel to work for goodness sake. And yet you have a minister sitting here saying that it’s about all of the other things and not about pay. That is absolutely not true.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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