'They've refused the olive branch' - nurses form latest picket line outside hospital
NHS nurses have once again taken to the picket line to make their voices heard as they walk out over pay and conditions.
On what is thought to be the biggest day of strikes in NHS history, members of the Royal College of Nursing stood with placards outside Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
They joined GMB and Unite paramedics, call handlers and ambulance trust staff in staging a walkout over pay and working conditions.
Among those on the picket line was a neonatal intensive care nurse who would only give his name as Brian.
He said: “Progress has obviously been slow.
“The Government has refused to sit down and negotiate properly with Pat Cullen (RCN general secretary) despite many olive branches from her asking directly to Steve Barclay and Rishi Sunak to sit down and discuss safe staffing, pay and working conditions.
“They have openly refused, that much is clear otherwise we wouldn’t be in our third round of strikes.
“So, we are here as the voice of the patients.”
READ MORE: Beeping cars and homemade cakes as striking nurses shown support outside hospital
Brian could barely be heard over the sounds of passing cars honking their horns in support, although he had admitted not all were happy with what they were doing.
“It’s been 99.9 per cent positive,” he said.
“There have been maybe one or two people who have shouted get back to work, but these people probably don’t understand what we’re doing and trying to achieve.
“If they want to come and speak to us, we can explain why we’re doing it and then hopefully they would change their minds.”
READ MORE: Patients face longer waits unless strikes end, NHS leaders warn
Ahead of today’s strike action, NHS leaders warned that further walkouts will result in the NHS’s backlog growing.
On this, Brian said: “The backlogs have been getting bigger and bigger.
“If you look at the numbers before the first day of strikes, they were huge compared to ten years ago.
“So, it’s not going to be much different.
“If the government invests then these backlogs won’t be there.
“They’ve come out and said ‘we’re delivering more beds and we’re going to do this’ but they still don’t have the staff and it’s the staff that bring these numbers down, beds don’t.”
Health Secretary Mr Barclay has said the Government “wants to work constructively” with unions.
And the Prime Minister’s spokesperson added: “We want to keep discussing how we can find a path forward with the unions.
“Our long-standing position is that above-inflation pay rises are not acceptable, given the impact it would have on taxpayers and the risk of increasing inflationary pressures.
“But we do want to find a path forward. We think the right way to do that is to talk about this year’s (2023/24) pay offer prior to evidence being submitted to the pay review body.”
Nurses will strike again on Tuesday, ambulance workers again on Friday and physiotherapists on Thursday.