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Home » Nurses Offer To Call Off Strikes In England If Sunak Makes Fresh Pay Offer

Nurses Offer To Call Off Strikes In England If Sunak Makes Fresh Pay Offer

Image source, Getty Images

By Aoife Walsh & Jasmine Andersson

BBC News

The head of the UK’s biggest nursing union has urged Rishi Sunak to make a new pay offer to avoid next week’s planned strikes in England going ahead.

In a letter seen by the BBC, head of the Royal College of Nursing Pat Cullen said she was “appealing directly” to Mr Sunak for the first time.

Citing pay negotiations in Wales and Scotland, she said a renewed offer or fresh talks could halt the action.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the action was “regrettable”.

Monday is thought to be biggest day of strike action in NHS history.

Nurses in England and ambulance staff in England and Wales have coordinated action for the first time in an ongoing row about pay and working conditions.

Staff from both services will strike on Monday, and nurses will also strike on Tuesday. Ambulance staff are also poised to take part in walkouts on Friday.

In a letter to the prime minister, Ms Cullen wrote that a “meaningful” pay offer from the government could still avert strike action.

She drew a comparison with his swift action in sacking Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi after he was found to have breached the ministerial code in relation to his tax affairs.

“As shown by last weekend’s fast-paced changes in Cabinet, big decisions can be made by you at any point in the week in the interests of good government,” she wrote.

“I am urging you to use this weekend to reset your government in the eyes of the public and demonstrate it is on the side of the hardworking, decent taxpayer.

“There could be no simpler way to demonstrate this commitment than bringing the nurse strike to a swift close.”

Upcoming strike action FRI 3 FEB

Train drivers Train drivers who are members of the Aslef union are on strike Most train companies across England are affected Disruption is also expected on some services between England and Scotland, and between England and Wales Customers are encouraged to check their route before travelling Read more: Train drivers to go on strike

Teachers in Scotland Teachers in South Lanarkshire and Western Isles are on strike Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) are taking action as part of an ongoing dispute over pay Read more: Which schools will teachers’ strikes affect?

Bus drivers on strike Bus drivers employed by Abellio in London are taking industrial action The routes affected are mostly in south and west London SAT 4 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

SUN 5 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

MON 6 FEB

Nurses in England Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are taking industrial action over pay Life-preserving treatment must be provided, and all nurses in intensive and emergency care are expected to work Read more: What do the strikes mean for patients?

Ambulance staff Ambulance staff in the GMB and Unite unions are on strike in several regional services across England and in Northern Ireland The strike affects non-life threatening calls only and people are advised to use the 999 service in an emergency Read more: Why are ambulance staff striking?

TUE 7 FEB

Nurses in England on strike Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are taking industrial action over pay Life-preserving treatment must be provided, and all nurses in intensive and emergency care are expected to work Read more: What do the strikes mean for patients?

WED 8 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

THU 9 FEB

Physiotherapists take action NHS physiotherapy staff across England are striking over pay and staffing The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy says 4,200 members are involved University staff Thousands of staff at 150 universities across the UK are taking industrial action Academic staff and those in other professional roles including administrators, librarians and technicians are involved Read more: Why are university staff striking?

FRI 10 FEB

Ambulance staff Thousands of ambulance staff across five services in England – London, Yorkshire, the South West, North East and North West – are striking The strike affects non-life threatening calls only and people are advised to use the 999 service in an emergency Read more: Why are ambulance staff striking?

University staff Thousands of staff at 150 universities across the UK are taking industrial action Academic staff and those in other professional roles including administrators, librarians and technicians are involved Read more: Why are university staff striking?

SAT 11 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

SUN 12 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

MON 13 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

TUE 14 FEB

University staff Thousands of staff at 150 universities across the UK are taking industrial action Academic staff and those in other professional roles including administrators, librarians and technicians are involved Read more: Why are university staff striking?

Teachers in Wales Members of the National Education Union are on strike across the whole of Wales Many schools will close altogether and classes in some others will not run Read more: Wales school strikes: Will my school be affected?

WED 15 FEB

University staff Thousands of staff at 150 universities across the UK are taking industrial action Academic staff and those in other professional roles including administrators, librarians and technicians are involved Read more: Why are university staff striking?

THU 16 FEB

Ambulance staff Ambulance staff in the Unite union in Northern Ireland are on strike The strike affects non-life threatening calls only and people are advised to use the 999 service in an emergency Read more: Why are ambulance staff striking?

University staff Thousands of staff at 150 universities across the UK are taking industrial action Academic staff and those in other professional roles including administrators, librarians and technicians are involved Read more: Why are university staff striking?

FRI 17 FEB

Ambulance staff Ambulance staff in the Unite union in the West Midlands and in Northern Ireland are on strike The strike affects non-life threatening calls only and people are advised to use the 999 service in an emergency Read more: Why are ambulance staff striking?

SAT 18 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

SUN 19 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

MON 20 FEB

Ambulance staff Ambulance staff in the Unite union in Wales and several regions of England are on strike The strike affects non-life threatening calls only and people are advised to use the 999 service in an emergency Read more: Why are ambulance staff striking?

TUE 21 FEB

Teachers in Northern Ireland The majority of teachers in Northern Ireland are holding a half-day strike Many schools across the country are not expected to open until after midday Read more: NI teachers to walk out for half a day

University staff Thousands of staff at 150 universities across the UK are taking industrial action Academic staff and those in other professional roles including administrators, librarians and technicians are involved Read more: Why are university staff striking?

WED 22 FEB

Ambulance staff Ambulance staff in the Unite union in the North West region of England are on strike The strike affects non-life threatening calls only and people are advised to use the 999 service in an emergency Read more: Why are ambulance staff striking?

University staff Thousands of staff at 150 universities across the UK are taking industrial action Academic staff and those in other professional roles including administrators, librarians and technicians are involved Read more: Why are university staff striking?

THU 23 FEB

Ambulance staff Ambulance staff in the Unite union in Northern Ireland are on strike The strike affects non-life threatening calls only and people are advised to use the 999 service in an emergency Read more: Why are ambulance staff striking?

University staff Thousands of staff at 150 universities across the UK are taking industrial action Academic staff and those in other professional roles including administrators, librarians and technicians are involved Read more: Why are university staff striking?

FRI 24 FEB

Ambulance staff Ambulance staff in the Unite union in Northern Ireland are on strike The strike affects non-life threatening calls only and people are advised to use the 999 service in an emergency Read more: Why are ambulance staff striking?

SAT 25 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

SUN 26 FEB

There are currently no national strikes planned for this date

Mr Barclay said while NHS contingency plans are in place, the strikes “will undoubtedly have an impact on patients and cause delays to NHS services”.

He said: “We accepted the recommendations of the independent pay review body to give over one million NHS workers, including nurses and ambulance workers, a pay rise of at least £1,400 this financial year.

“I have been having constructive talks with unions about what is affordable for 2023/24, and urge them to call off the strikes and come back around the table.”

The renewed calls for a government response from the RCN come after Welsh NHS staff suspended strike action following an improved offer from ministers.

“Yesterday, the Welsh Government made an offer of an additional 3% for the current financial year,” Ms Cullen wrote.

“Consequently, we cancelled our strike action in Wales for Monday and Tuesday. In Scotland, negotiations continue over additional funding for the current year too and there are no planned strikes.

“Your government looks increasingly isolated in refusing to reopen 2022/23,” she said, adding she had made it clear in meetings with England’s Health Secretary Steve Barclay “that opening negotiations and making meaningful offers can avert strike action”.

Referring to the prime minister’s comments in an interview this week to mark his 100th day in office – in which he said nurses should be treated as “an exception” – Ms Cullen said the prime minister “appeared to demonstrate a change in tone in respect of the strike by nursing staff”.

Ms Cullen urged Mr Sunak to “use this weekend to reset your government in the eyes of the public” and show it is “on the side of the hardworking, decent taxpayer” by bringing the dispute to an end.

In England, most NHS staff have already received a pay rise of roughly £1,400 this year – worth about 4% on average for nurses. The RCN is calling for a 19% pay rise, although it has indicated it may meet the government “halfway”.

Unions representing ambulance workers and physiotherapists also want above-inflation pay rises, but have not specified a figure.

The government says the demands are unaffordable, and that pay rises are decided by independent pay review bodies.

Union members in England are planning to strike on 6 and 7 February.