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‘What a tragic day’: British nurses strike in bitter pay dispute


LONDON: National Health Service nurses in England staged a strike on Thursday, their first nationwide strike, as a bitter dispute with the government over pay raises pressure on already overwhelmed hospitals at one of the busiest times of the year.
An estimated 100,000 nurses will go on strike at 76 hospitals and health centres, canceling around 70,000 appointments, procedures and surgeries at the state-funded NHS.
Britain is facing a wave of industrial action this winter, with strikes crippling rail networks and the postal service, and airports bracing for disruption over Christmas. born.
Inflation at more than 10%, which drags on salary offers around 4%, is causing tension between unions and employers.
Of all the strikes, however, the image of nurses standing on the fence will be the standout image for many Britons this winter.
“What a tragic day. It’s a tragic day for nursing, a tragic day for patients, patients in hospitals like this, and it’s a tragic day for those in this society and our NHS,” Pat Cullen, head of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union, said on the BBC on Thursday.
The widely admired nursing profession will shut down parts of the NHS, since its founding in 1948 the institution has grown into a national treasure because of its free point of use, hitting on providing healthcare as it has stretched into the winter and has a record backlog due to COVID delays.
Health Minister Steve Barclay said it was regrettable that the strike continued.
“I’ve been working with the government and with doctors outside the public sector to make sure staff levels are safe – but I’m still concerned about the risk that strikes pose to patients,” he said. .
Barclay said patients should continue to seek urgent medical care and go to appointments unless they are told not to.
More strikes ahead?
The nurses’ industrial action on December 15 and December 20 was unprecedented in the British nursing association’s 106-year history, but the RCN said it had no other choice as workers had to struggling to make a living.
Nurses want a 19% raise, arguing that they have suffered food cuts for a decade and that low wages mean staff shortages and unsafe patient care.
The government has refused to discuss wages, which Cullen said has increased the likelihood of more strikes.
“Every time I went into the room with the secretary of state, he told me he could talk about anything but pay,” she said. “What it’s going to do is carry on with days like this.”
Outside St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, Ethnea Vaughan, 50, a practice development nurse from London said she felt nurses had no choice but to strike, blaming the government for having ignored their concerns for years.
“Nothing has changed and I’ve been a nurse for 27 years and all I can see is the mental decline,” she told Reuters.
The government in Scotland avoided a nurses’ strike by holding salary negotiations, an outcome the RCN had hoped for in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
But the government has said it cannot pay more than the 4-5% offered to nurses, proposed by an independent body, and further increases would mean taking money away from services. frontline.
The RCN said some treatment areas will be exempt from the strike, including chemotherapy, dialysis and intensive care.
Opinion polls prior to the nurses’ strike showed a majority of Britons in favor of the action, but once the strike takes place, politicians will keep a close eye on public opinion.

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