Thousands of nurses from the United Kingdom will protest the awful working conditions they have experienced for several months.
A two-day strike against their employers has been organized by almost 100,000 nurses from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The gang claims that they have reached their breaking point. In particular, when inflation in the nation is rampant, the meager salaries they are paid cannot keep up with the growing prices of commodities. So on December 15 and 20, there will be a strike.
The Royal College of Nursing, the largest nursing union in the nation, is home to many nurses. It will be the organization’s first strike in 106 years. And the fundamental reason for this is the miserable financial situation that has hampered the professionals’ daily life. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than two years have passed. Much medical personnel suffered as a result of the lockdowns. Nevertheless, despite their sacrifices to protect countless lives, they are still rewarded inadequately.
“Government rejects option to avert nursing strikes by choosing not to enter formal pay negotiations. As a result, strikes in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will happen on 15 and 20 December,” the RCN said in a news release.
“Last night (12 December), RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen met with Health Secretary Steve Barclay with hopes of beginning formal pay negotiations, which could have averted strike action. However, Mr. Barclay refused to discuss pay, and therefore strikes will go ahead as planned on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December,” it added.
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The call increase the pay for nurses
Following the discussion, the RCN CEO informed the workforce that she had tried her best to negotiate a wage hike and benefits package with the UK Health Secretary. The government, however, didn’t appear inclined to pay the nurses what they were entitled to. Cullen said she was eager to engage with the government before the meeting to improve nurses’ working and wage circumstances.
“I asked several times to discuss pay, and each time we returned to the same thing – that there was no extra money on the table and that they would not be discussing pay with me,” Cullen said.
“I needed to come out of this meeting with something serious to show nursing staff why they should not strike this week. Regrettably, they’re not getting an extra penny. Ministers had too little to say, and I had to speak at length about the unprecedented strength of feeling in the profession.”
“I expressed my deep disappointment at the belligerence that was shown – they closed their books and walked away.”
In the press statement, the RCN asked nurses to walk out in protest. They also stated that the strike should start and would only be called off if the RCN noticed the government showing indications of cooperating. For instance, the organization halted its strikes in Scotland when the country’s administration attempted to negotiate with the nurses. Unfortunately, many local officials choose to remain mute about the subject.
“Nursing is the largest safety-critical profession in health care, playing a vital role in patient care. Despite this, nursing remains understaffed and undervalued. After years of underinvestment, the government must act urgently to protect patient care by protecting the profession,” the RCN said.
“The Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is about: (1) recognizing that salaries of nursing professionals have consistently fallen below inflation – a fact which is being exacerbated by the cost of living crisis – and must now rise significantly to reflect that.
(2) valuing the training, qualifications, skills, responsibilities and experience demonstrated everyday by nursing staff.
(3) ensuring that nursing is seen as an attractive, rewarding profession to tackle the tens of thousands of unfilled nursing posts.
(4) the campaign aims to secure a pay increase that is 5% above inflation (measured by RPI).”
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‘Our nurses are not okay’
In an opinion piece published earlier this year, New York nurse Lauran Ghazal expressed the same concerns. According to her, more than 4 million nurses in the US may relate to the difficulties experienced by medical personnel in the UK. Their poor salary and difficult working conditions are made worse by the impact of inflation and the pandemic.
“I know this firsthand. I am a family nurse practitioner as well as a researcher. Unfortunately, over the past few months, as Omicron cases have spiked, my colleagues and I have been stretched to our limits,” she said.
“Inside the hospitals and clinics where I work, however, the reality is much different. For nurses, 2022 can often feel far grimmer than what we experienced at the start of the pandemic. We have vaccines and more PPE now, yes, but being on the front lines of waves of infections has carried an extreme physical and emotional burden that’s leading to immense burnout,” she added.
Ghazal said that the situation for Covid had improved and that patients could now choose from a wide range of remedies. Nurses and other healthcare professionals still experience burnout, though. And this is as a result of hospital patient overcrowding.
“While my colleagues and I are doing everything we can to treat patients despite our own exhaustion, there are still patients filling waiting rooms who have not gotten vaccinated or taken preventive measures such as wearing masks to protect themselves and help curb the influx of new Covid-19 hospitalizations.”
“And while some of the public may choose to be “done” with the pandemic, or live as though it doesn’t exist, for health care workers like myself there has been no escape.”
Opinions expressed by Texas Today contributors are their own.