December strike dates announced for NHS nurses

Hospital trust

The Royal College of Nursing has announced strike dates for its members following its biggest ballot in its 106-year history.

The RCN is campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above inflation to overcome “a decade of real-terms pay cuts,” support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis and recognise their safety critical skills. That figure is based on the RPI inflation rate (which was 14.2% in October) plus 5%.

The action is also about  patient safety. Staffing levels are so low that patient care is being compromised. The RCN says that only by paying nursing staff fairly will people be able to be recruited and retained in the profession.
The first phase of strike action will take place on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December.

The RCN says the action is the result of the government turning down an offer of formal, detailed negotiations as an alternative to strikes.

The strikes will happen in England, Northern Ireland and Wales with a list of where action will take place announced next week.

Strike action will happen in phases, meaning more strike dates could be announced after initial action in December.

Not all members will be called to strike on these first two dates.

RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time.

“My offer of formal negotiations was declined and instead ministers have chosen strike action. They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks that address our dispute.

“Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay says the government has given nurses a proportionate, balanced pay increase in line with recommendations of an independent panel.

He said: “We are giving over one million non-medical NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, on top of a 3% pay increase last year when wider public sector pay was frozen.

“As a result, a newly qualified nurse will now typically earn over £31,000 a year including overtime and unsocial hours payments. This is a balanced increase that is fair for nurses and the taxpayer too.”

He said the  RCN “is demanding a massive pay rise” which “is simply neither reasonable nor affordable.”

He added: “It is inevitable that any strike would mean some patients will have their treatment delayed, and I would urge the unions to consider the impact on those who rely on the NHS for their care. We are facing a difficult winter for our whole country and industrial action is in nobody’s best interests.”


  1. What a bunch of scumbags we have for ministers. A nurses’ wages are an average of £24,000 a year. The figure the government quotes includes overtime and other payments that are neither guaranteed or desirable. The nurses’ demand could be easily met by a “Tobin Tax”, by stopping the billions pumped into Ukraine for killing people, by taxing non-doms like Sunak’s missus and by ceasing the huge payments to private contractors by their chums in Government. In the end it is what you think is important. NHS workers come high up my list of priorities. They do not in Sunak’s!

    • Haven’t heard from our 2 Chocolate tea pot MP’s lately, I am surprised they haven’t blamed the victims for going on strike, which is what Tory’s and the reactionary right wing press usually do! Keith your a Pillock, get help! I survived the 2nd world war although my older sister Beryl didn’t, after our road was blown by the Germans.

      Do you think for one moment Putin would stop if he beats Ukraine? No he wouldn’t, the Baltic states would be next, and if NATO defended them then it would be World War 3! I also survived the Cold War, when we given just 4 minutes to live had Russia attacked during the Cuban missile crisis, and Putin is mad enough to do it all again. Ukraine is fighting on our behalf, they need all the help they can get!

  2. If you enter the NHS all grades are got at how hard you work for to get to the next grade it’s the trust’s responsability for wages very irresponsible of them all to strike hope nobody dies during these protests relatives should have a careful watch on their relatives in hospital get ready for litigation against them.

    • “If you enter the NHS all grades are got at how hard you work for to get to the next grade “ Thank you Brian – you have no idea – grades are not performance related pay / to how hard you work . Many grades have financially restricted boundaries and are a pittance .would you work for at least an extra 2 hours a each day free – no breaks , quick grab if food if lucky-then have to stay on after your paid work hours end to hand over entire unit / department/ward etc every day – oh and be spat , sworn at , physically attacked etc

    • Brian Smith Stewart

      Are you for real ?

      You sound 100% like a well off Tory.

      This is how a tory government works. First it makes sure the well of get even more well off. Than they make sure the working classes are made poorer. Than they reduce the funding to schools, NHS, county councils etc.

      They tory government always splits the country more and it normally ends in strikes and riots. This is how this joke of a government will end.

      This government has had more leaders than some people have had hot dinners. The latest is a multi millionaire along with his wife who doesnt pay any uk taxes.

      Working class people have a right to withdraw their labour. It’s a very sad state that our health workers have been pushed into this. Not that long ago the toru would clap at 8pm on a Thursday for the NHS. We all knew they didnt mean it, just a publicity stunt. NHS even saved the prem minister life.

      I fully support all these stri actions. Why should the working classes have to pick up the bill for this incompetent government. This government made sure that their friends made millions from the pandemic PPE scam.

      Power to the people !!!

        • A few weeks ago, when it was suggested that you contributed to the Manston Museum appeal, you declined on the grounds that you were “boracic”.
          If you’ve got richer under the Tories, one wonders what situation you were in a dozen years ago, if after experiencing years of Tory government you’re now enriched to the point of merely being “boracic”

  3. Saying it is about patient safety is disingenuous, it is all about wanting a whacking good pay rise. You can argue for ever and a day about train driver’s salary versus nurse’s salaries, and it is an argument with no answer. The majority of people working have had a real term pay cut since 2010, or 2005. The majority lost out during austerity, the country can only pay what it can afford. Put everyone back on the rates of pay they had in 2010, and we will all be worse off in the end. If Tesco’s give everyone a 20% pay rise they will have to put the price of our weekly shop up to cover it, if the council give everyone a 20% pay rise services are cut and council tax goes up. If the extra £9 billion given to the NHS all goes on salary increases the waiting lists go up.

  4. It’s a very difficult situation.
    For a decade or more, NHS professionals in general and nurses in particular have consistently been awarded (if at all) below inflation pay rises. In consequence, staff need a pay rise of more than 5% just to get back to where they should be, let alone equip them to face rocketing prices.
    A consequence of this situation is that more and more staff are leaving, throwing an even greater burden on those still at their posts.
    No wonder they’re going on strike for the first time ever. We were quick enough to stand on our doorsteps during the pandemic and clap. Maybe we should support them now.
    I don’t envy the Health Secretary.

  5. Industrial action seems to be on trend these days, some trade unions will be more successful.
    The RCN should have balloted for a strike during the pandemic, that would be world wide news and they would have got 17.2% in a blink.
    Hopefully the RCN has experienced negotiators and prepared for a long running dispute.
    RCN daily strike pay could be as much as £51 per day.
    Our new chancellor (ex health sec top bod) admitted nhs is on the brink of collapse.

    • I can see where this is going.
      In Scotland, there is talk of a two-tier system, where wealthier people would pay for treatment, and poorer people would fer it for “free”.
      But how do you define “wearhier” and “poorer”? And what treatments?
      We could end up with a USA style system, where just about everyone pays for everything.
      It’s what the government wants.

  6. The RCN deciding upon strike action shows how bad things are. I began SRN training in 1978, having worked in the NHS since 1976. It was clear then that the NHS was being managed by government policy and NHS managers to fail as a “public health service”. 1979 saw a step-change with a Tory Gov’t hell-bent on ideological economics rather than “the nations health”. Labour did very little to change this when they had a massive majority with the Blair/Brown leadership.
    Nurses have taken strike action many times since the 1970’s but not the RCN. These have been through other Trade Unions such as COHSE and NUPE (now UNISON) for the most part.
    The argument that the country can’t afford to pay working people a wage that allows them to live decently is false. Billions upon billions of pounds are given over to the ‘already wealthy’ in many different and creative ways. Austerity policies and cuts have never been about the country or the economy but about how to divert wealth to those who don’t need it.
    Striking is presented as awful, harmful and destructive by those who hold the power and wealth. But to withdraw your labour is simply deciding not to turn up to work, it’s a choice. So when a CEO/Investors/Directors decide to sack people, make them redundant, strip assets, raise prices, manipulate accounting; when politicians pass laws and award contracts to benefit themselves and friends, these are also choices. They are rarely presented as willful money-grabbing but “necessary for the country”. It is a con and has always been so.

    Health inequalities are directly linked to inequality of wealth. The 1979 Black Report set this out very clearly. If we want a healthy population we need to give them the resources to live decently, not have to make choices about food, education, joy, shelter and heating. A very small minority of our population make choices to make this “decent living” impossible, to stop this we have to challenge and oppose their choices. It’s their greedy self-interest versus our survival, that is the equation.

    If you accept the lies of the powerful and wealthy that is your choice. If you use silly sarcasm and trolling to divert the arguments that is also a choice. Neither alters the historical fact that the powerful and wealthy elites will do anything to protect their interests even when their choices destroy individuals, communities and eco-systems.

  7. Alot of nurses work very hard for the benefit of the public. Sadly people like you think they should be paid poorly.

    I can completely understand why you are a Tory

    • No, I think they should be paid fairly. As they’re being done already.

      I’d much rather money would be spent on giving free bus passes to ALL people over 60, unfashionable as it is to think of older people these days.

      • That 9 billion the Tories wasted on PPE by giving deals to their useless & unqualified friends would have come in handy for that, or pay rises for nurses.

      • Comedy gold lol

        Being fairly paid as they are now lol

        I am over 60 and happy to pay my bus fair and happy to see nurses paid a fair wage.

        You only seem to want things that benefit you directly, that’s why you bang on about bus fares.

        Glad I dont live on plant checksfield

        • Oh, if you can afford to pay bus your bus fare (not “fair”!) then s*d other pensioners that are less well-off.

          (and I don’t know what “plant checksfield” is, though I’m assuming it is some sort of delicious and exotic fruit).

    • Peter isn’t a Tory, he has said he is a floating voter that has voted for pretty much every party at one point or another.

  8. I have no objection to nurses being paid more. But I do object very strongly to those working in the NHS and other public sector jobs being able to retire with tax payer funded pensions at 55. Those of us who have worked all our lives in the private sector and received similar salaries to nurses / public sector workers either have to work until we are 66 or have to have invested in our own private pensions.

    • I pay 12.5% of my salary to my NHS pension and can only take a proportion of it (so called 1995) scheme at 60 – not 55, having started in the NHS in 1996. The rest – 2015 scheme I only get at 66. Always best to know full facts before spouting right wing rhetoric.

    • Those in psychiatry may retire at 55 ( for very , very good reasons ) – other specialities 60 or 65 .
      Not sure what private sector jobs we are discussing so comparison of “jobs”pointless . NHS employees contribute to the NHS Superannuation scheme- not sure what you mean regarding tax payer funded pension

  9. When I worked on the refurb of Charing Cross hotel as a labourer I resisted blowing half my wages on coke and booze on the weekends, and saved hard (I was 19). I didn’t actually get as well paid a job until years later but by then Id planned for future.

    I now have a SIPP, S&S ISA, investment property and emergency savings. Any other money that comes my way I spend and have fun. I have never factored in state pension as something to rely on in the future.

  10. Some facts –
    While nurses get a decent pension scheme the employee contributions are higher than the private sector, they pay for a better scheme.
    Nurse UK suggest that while average nurse pay rose a few % since 2010 it dropped by 7% against cost of living.
    Looking at average pay for nurses is not that helpful in this strike action as the pay bands are extreme, Band 1 starts at £20,270 while Band 9 ends at £109,475! Various sources put average nurse pay (before deductions) at £33 – 35,000 a year.
    These averages don’t make clear how much of this pay is derived from extra work and unsocial hours. It also fails to look at those who work part-time.
    With half of registeted nurses being over 40yrs old one could assume the higher paid nurses are among this group. The other half would be under 40 yrs old and so probably on far lower pay.
    Most nurses are women. Our society still has women as the primary home makers. This means their choices are limited regarding working unsocial hours and further training (how to get more pay and rise to better paid Bands).
    The other point for me is the very high level of responsibility nurses have for patient/client care and their specialised technical skill sets.

  11. Most striking workers probably live above their means holidays abroad, expensive electrical gadgets nights down the pub, having children, not many think first before spending what they haven’t got.

  12. I hope the nurses succeed in getting a fair wage & more money is used to help those suffering in the wicked destruction of Ukraine.

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