Biggest NHS strike in history gets underway today as thousands of workers walk out over pay and working conditions
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Thousands of NHS workers are taking part in the biggest walkout in the organisation’s history today. Amongst the many workers striking are nurses at 73 NHS trusts in England.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will strike today and tomorrow (February 6 and 7). The walk out is part of the ongoing dispute for better working conditions and pay within the NHS.
Also on strike today are ambulance workers across several areas of the UK. Ambulance staff in the West Midlands, the North East, the East Midlands and the North West are all out on picket lines today.
Ahead of the strike action this week, general secretary & chief executive of the RCN Pat Cullen said: “Your government looks increasingly isolated in refusing to reopen discussions about the 2022-23 NHS pay award. As a result, the strike action for England remains - with tens of thousands of nurses losing wages to ensure you hear their voice. It must not be in vain.
“It will be the biggest day of industrial action in the 75-year history of the NHS. Nursing staff find that a sobering realisation of how far they have been pushed to protect patient care and secure some respect for the nursing profession.
“I’m urging you 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.”
Despite the industrial action, the NHS is asking patients to seek urgent care if they need it and continue to attend appointments as planned unless contacted to rearrange. General practice, community pharmacies, and dentistry are not impacted by strike action and the public should continue to access these services as needed on strike days.
Speaking last week, NHS medical director Sir Stephen Powis said: “Next week is likely to be the most disruptive week of strikes to date and while local services have worked hard to minimise impact for patients, the scale of action means increased disruption is inevitable.
“However, it is vital that people do not put off seeking care and come forward for treatment – using 111 online for non-life threatening care, as well as local pharmacies or general practice, or dialling 999 in a life-threatening emergency.
“Areas impacted have worked hard to maintain as much routine care as possible so it is also important that anyone with an appointment should continue to attend as planned unless they have been contacted to rearrange.”