29.05.2024

Majority of NHS nurses don’t support strikes

Most NHS nurses don’t support strikes, according to the former leader of the union behind the current spate of carnage.

Dr Peter Carter, who led the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) between 2007 and 2015, claimed the body’s militant strategy — which has effectively brought ailing hospitals to a standstill — has left members ‘war-weary’ and ‘confused’.

He said he has been overwhelmed with messages from nurses left furious about the RCN’s escalated approach to the Bank Holiday strike.

It saw nurses walk out of intensive care units, A&E and cancer wards for the first time in the bitter pay dispute.

Dr Carter’s comments come ahead of a key meeting between unions and NHS chiefs this afternoon, which could see a million workers given a 5 per cent pay rise and one off bonus worth up to £3,789.

The RCN has allegedly left staff 'war weary' and 'confused' over their strategy

The RCN has allegedly left staff ‘war weary’ and ‘confused’ over their strategy

In a meeting today, unions and NHS employers are expected to discuss Government options to implement a pay rise and put a final stop to this long-running dispute

In a meeting today, unions and NHS employers are expected to discuss Government options to implement a pay rise and put a final stop to this long-running dispute

Bosses of 14 unions will vote on whether the offer — which the Government has said is final — should be accepted.

Some organisations, such as the RCN, have already rejected it, which prompted the unprecedented 28-hour strike which ended yesterday at 11.59pm.

But other unions, including Unison, the GMB and those representing midwives and physiotherapists, voted in favour.

The overall decision is based on an electoral college system, with votes allocated in proportion to the size of the union membership.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay yesterday said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the deal will be cleared.

Ministers hope it will be a turning point in the months-long row.

Dr Carter, who has also held senior roles at NHS trusts, explained the measures taken by the RCN concern him and many members.

Initially, there were no derogations at all.

Last-minute talks between the RCN and NHS England agreed ‘to protect life and limb services’, with nurses allowed to provide a minimal level of staffing in some areas.

But the action — which began on Sunday at 8pm — was still unprecedented.

One hospital was still forced to transfer patients out of its intensive care unit after nurses ignored their union’s request.

Discussing the strike, Dr Carter told the Telegraph: ‘In the last few days, I’ve had an awful lot of texts and emails from a lot of nurses who were really unhappy about the lack of derogations.’

Health Secretary Steve Barclay yesterday said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the deal will be cleared

Pat Cullen, general secretary of the RCN, confirmed that the union would no longer strike on May 2 following a historic High Court ruling yesterday. It will, however, continue with the planned action on April 30 and May 1

Pat Cullen, general secretary of the RCN, confirmed that the union would no longer strike on May 2, but would continue with the planned action on April 30 and May 1

RCN members protesting outside the High Court before it ruled that their strike on May 2 would be illegal

RCN members protesting outside the High Court before it ruled that their strike on May 2 would be illegal

He added: ‘I think the membership is very confused about where all of this is going. I think nurses are war-weary.’

Dr Carter said: ‘The membership is very split on this. When you look at the numbers, more than a third of them didn’t vote at all. The majority didn’t vote for strike action, or else didn’t vote at all.’

The RCN is pressing ahead with a fresh ballot to see if its members want to continue taking industrial action, irrespective of what happens at today’s meeting.

At a London picket line on Monday, RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘What our members are saying to the Secretary of State and Government is we are not going to go away.

‘We will remain on our picket lines to have a voice heard for our patients.

‘We will continue to lose a day’s pay standing on picket lines for our patients so that’s how important it is to them and they want to have their voice heard.’

She claimed Health Secretary Steve Barclay has ‘lost the public and certainly lost any respect that our nursing staff had for him and this Government’.

Strike action was planned by nurses for today but was called off following a historic High Court judge ruling that it would be unlawful.

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