Nurse strikes 2022: When and why are NHS staff striking?

The RCN has announced two strike days in December (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
The RCN has announced two strike days in December (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

NHS nurses are to take part in their first-ever strike in the run-up to Christmas in pursuit of better pay. They will still provide emergency care but routine services will be hit.

For the strike action to take place in England, Scotland and Wales it needed 50 per cent of eligible union members to vote in the ballot, and the majority must then endorse industrial action.

The British Medical Journal reported that 102 out of 215 NHS trusts in England fell just short of the required 50 per cent turnout rate. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, every NHS group will strike, and all health boards in Wales – but one – met the threshold.

GP services will be unaffected as nurses working in practices were not entitled to take part in the ballot.

Where are the strikes taking place?

Strikes will affect at least 177 NHS trusts.

London hospitals that will be affected include:

  • Imperial College Healthcare

  • Guy’s and St Thomas’

  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children

  • Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare

  • St George’s University Hospitals

  • King’s College Hospital

  • Royal Marsden

  • Tavistock and Portman

  • University College London

When are they striking?

At the time of writing, strike dates are confirmed for December 15 and 20.

Why are nurses striking?

Pay is the biggest difficulty. Nurses are among a large group of public sector employees whose pay has not kept pace with inflation.

Under the NHS’s Agenda for Change contract, the government announced in July 2022 that more than a million staff including nurses and paramedics would receive a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, backdated to April 2022.

Additionally, NHS workers received a three per cent pay rise in 2021.

However, the RCN argued “experienced nurses [are] 20 per cent worse off in real terms compared to a decade ago” and the decline is pushing people out of the profession and putting patient safety at risk.

London has the worst shortage of nurses in the UK.

The RCN suggested a pay rise of five per cent above the inflation rate (currently 11.1 per cent) would support nurses through the cost of living crisis and recognise their critical work.