FILE PHOTO: Medical staff treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients at Milton Keynes University Hospital, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Milton Keynes
Nurses treat a COVID-19 patient in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) at Milton Keynes University Hospital in Britain. Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville/File
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Thousands of British nurses to stage first strikes on Dec 15, 20

36 Comments
By Natalie Thomas and Alistair Smout

Chukwudubem Ifeajuna, a nurse in the south of England, loves his job, but next month will walk out for two days as part of British nurses' biggest ever strike action, which he says is necessary for staff and patient welfare alike.

The industrial action on Dec 15 and Dec. 20 is unprecedented in the British nursing union's 106-year history, and comes as the state-run National Health Service (NHS) braces for one of its toughest winters ever.

Ifeajuna has seen members of his team leave to work in supermarkets, where there is less stress and better pay, while he has had to cut back on spending.

"I have a few staff who are using food banks at the moment. I've had to cut down on a lot of things with the kids which I can't afford to provide for them because of the high cost of living. So it's really really tough, for everyone, not just myself," he told Reuters.

"We are striking because we deserve to be paid better. We haven't had decent pay for over a decade now."

Strike action is also impacting Britain's rail, postal and education sectors as workers struggle with soaring prices.

Patricia Marquis, director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union in England, said the government must listen.

"This is not something that nurses do at the drop of a hat," she told Reuters.

The RCN says experienced nurses like Ifeajuna are 20% worse off in real terms than they were in 2010 after a string of below-inflation pay awards, and are seeking a pay-rise of 5% above RPI (retail price index) inflation.

That would amount to a payrise of 19.2%, based on October's inflation data. The government says the RCN demands would cost 10 billion pounds ($12.14 billion) a year and are unaffordable.

But the RCN's Marquis said that without higher pay, staff would continue to leave the profession, increasing the pressure on those who remain and ultimately damaging patient care.

Billy Palmer, at the Nuffield Trust health think-tank, told Reuters that those who were considering leaving "often cite issues around not having enough staff to do a good job", but their departure further exacerbates the staffing problem.

"It's the most vicious of cycles," he said.

Ifeajuna says he has also sometimes considered quitting.

"But each time I've had the chance, I sort of had to pause for a minute and say 'I can't leave my patients. I can't leave my colleagues to suffer alone'," he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

36 Comments
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The nation is behind you. Good luck.

how about nationalizing the assets of the royal family and invest in healthcare and education?

3 ( +9 / -6 )

The government says the RCN demands would cost 10 billion pounds ($12.14 billion) a year and are unaffordable.

It always surprised me how much money the government suddenly had for Covid measures which went into the billions. Not just England but ours here in Japan and many other ones. I know it was an emergency but isn't this also somewhat of an emergency? People need to eat.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Rodney.

correct.there should be no issue with that?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The Nation is most certainly NOT behind them @Rodney. You state that like you are from the UK.

I have my sympathies with them -but its another reason to keep left wing unions out of essential services.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

The nation is behind you

The polling isn’t great on this from what I’ve seen, but it suggests a majority of the country support the strikes, although a majority also see what they want in terms of pay rises as excessive. What the nurses would actually accept in pay is probably another matter.

how about nationalizing the assets of the royal family and invest in healthcare and education

Nice idea but not at this moment in time as this current government cannot be trusted with money. The ineptitude and corruption over the past few years has been revolting.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Several family members were nurses but in the end, they were forced to leave over pay and conditions.

Pay for one year of experience £20,270 . Band 9 five years of experience £109,475.

https://www.nurses.co.uk/careers-hub/nursing-pay-guide/

The Royal College of Nursing estimated in 2021 that the average annual salary of an NHS nurse is £33,384. The pay rise introduced across the NHS in 2022 means that the average is probably now closer to £35,000.

https://www.nurses.co.uk/blog/a-quick-overview-of-nurses--salaries-in-the-uk-in-2022/

Is it a British nurse's strike or a strike by England and Wales NHS nurses?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Correct @Jimizo. The demands by the Union are excessive. I think we all know this would probably be resolved around 7-8% if the union started with a sensible starting point, which is hopefully where inflation will correct to in the Spring.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Since Reuters couldn't be bothered to research what the pay is for nurses, I'll do it for them. I was skeptical of the need for raises until I learned this:

Converting to US$, nurses in the UK make an average of $39,000 per year, or about $648 per week after taxes.

That's the same as a McDonald's worker in the US. A person can barely survive on that.

Average salary for government nurses in the US is over $100,000 per year.

I had no idea salaries in the UK were so low after seeing salaries for other jobs.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Salaries are terrible. My brother was a Nurse for the NHS. He left for Ireland and enjoys far better pay.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Seems like the UK is going down the toilet. I know a few brits in Tokyo, and without exception they speak poorly of their country, and I mean no exceptions. What happened to the worldwide empire?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

As of November 2022, the current average salary in the UK is £27,756, which is a 6.8% increase from 2021. For full-time employees, the average salary is £33,000, while part-time employees earn an average wage of £12,247 (including gig economy workers).

Average annual salary of an NHS nurse is £33,384, higher levels get more.

A person working as a Medical Administrator in United Kingdom typically earns around 79,900 GBP per year. 

And the NHS is infamous for multiple layers of administrators, managers, directors, consultants (not medical), along with diversity and inclusion managers on 70,000 GBP/year, who consume a large part of the budget.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Is it a British nurse's strike or a strike by England and Wales NHS nurses?

It seems the strike by Scottish nurses has been put on hold while a new pay offer is considered.

https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/workforce/breaking-nurse-strike-plans-paused-in-scotland-amid-new-pay-talks-18-11-2022/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

MumbaiRocks!Today  04:13 pm JST

Seems like the UK is going down the toilet. I know a few brits in Tokyo, and without exception they speak poorly of their country, and I mean no exceptions. What happened to the worldwide empire?

The funny thing to me as a brit is, I discovered pretty early that many of the other brits I met here were not people I would hang out with in the UK. They're bitter and whiney because they were losers in the UK and they're still losers here. I do my best to not hang around with negative types.

I definitely do not think the UK is some sort of utopia lol but I love it when I go back there warts n all, it really is not as bad as many places I've been to.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'm with you @Kniknaknokkaer: I love going back, had a great time in October, always do without fail.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Mumbairocks...

Seems like the UK is going down the toilet. I know a few brits in Tokyo, and without exception they speak poorly of their country, and I mean no exceptions. What happened to the worldwide empire?

The worldwide empire....

Chukwudubem Ifeajuna, a nurse in the south of England

It moved to the UK....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The H in NHS stands for health, sadly it is no longer a health service but an illness service. Swamped by obesity and the many health conditions brought on by this problem. A look at the pre teens will tell you that this is only going to get worse in the future.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Peter NeilToday  04:03 pm JST

Since Reuters couldn't be bothered to research what the pay is for nurses, I'll do it for them. I was skeptical of the need for raises until I learned this:

Converting to US$, nurses in the UK make an average of $39,000 per year, or about $648 per week after taxes.

That's the same as a McDonald's worker in the US. A person can barely survive on that.

And depending on where in the UK you happen to be a nurse it can be real unlivable salary. That's not enough to live a normal life in London for example.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What happened to the worldwide empire?

Most of it had become independent by around 1970. Do keep up.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Seems the NHS is not in a good state. People waiting on the street for an ambulance to arrive to take injured and collapsed people to hospitals. Pitiful waiting times even with an emergency. Patients in hospitals left in corridors because of the lack of beds and without proper care and attention.

When Boris Johnson was the PM he promised when the country left the EU, the weekly savings of £300 million would go to the NHS. It never did.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nurses swore an oath to be of service in the medical profession when needed.

Nurses should never go on strike !

It's hypocritical and probably a crime.

There has to be a better way for Nurses to obtain what they require than going on strike.

If the nurses can be replaced with other nurses that are willing to work then terminate the current employment of the unreliable nurses on strike.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

What happened to the worldwide empire?

There never was a worldwide British empire.

They only colonized half of the world and then rapidly failed miserably.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Awa no Gaijin

what is the average pay of your Swiss nurses?

Registered Nurse is CHF 95,059 (£83,000) a year and CHF 46 an hour (£40) in Zürich, Switzerland.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How many patients will die because of the strike? I guess it is the poor patients who die. It is very sad.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@MumbaiRocks!

Germany stole it's mojo and France is in bed with ze Germans. All that left is the distant memory of the empire and the Tories

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

English, Welsh, and Northern Ireland nurses. Not Scottish nurses who are still negotiating.

Emergency cover and ongoing treatments will continue.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nurses can freelance as a traveling nurse in ,America make an average 100k

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The NHS is understaffed.

Staffing crisis deepens in NHS England with 110,000 posts unfilled

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/mar/03/staffing-crisis-deepens-in-nhs-england-with-110000-posts-unfilled

So to strike will put lives at risk.

To suggest otherwise is nonsense.

“Hippocratic Oath”

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Starting pay for a nurse is less than £28,000pa. This is a Band 5 role, the majority of nurses are in this band. The government spent billions paying their mates for unusable and dangerous PPE during the pandemic, they had money for that but not to pay nurses what they are worth. There are over 40,000 registered nurse vacancies in England alone, about one in ten. In London it’s one in eight. 500 nurses a week are leaving the NHS. This can’t go on. If you think nurses are paid what they are worth then you have a very low opinion of the profession and the job.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nurses in the UK do not take an oath, even if they did, oaths don’t pay the rent. We have bills to pay just like everyone else.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To strike in the nursing profession is playing politics with patients lives.

Operations/appointments will inevitably be canceled.

It is morally obscene to hold/blackmail the sick to account in a wage negotiation.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hippocratic Oath”

Yes exactly and thankyou.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Luddite is correct nurses in the UK are not held to the Nightingale Pledge. Quote registered nurses are not required to take any pledge to join the NMC register

You know the most venerable will be at risk, don't suggest there isn't a risk, it is deluded to believe hospitals that have an existing staffing shortage can simply make do and muddle through.

Of course if one can afford the fees from a private hospital the strike is meaningless.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Awa no Gaijin

what is the average pay of your Swiss nurses?

Registered Nurse is CHF 95,059 (£83,000) a year and CHF 46 an hour (£40) in Zürich, Switzerland

Why are the nurses in Switzerland going on strike ?

Don't try to compare the British to the Swiss because that's just ridiculous.

You couldn't pay me to live in England again .

It's rotten wankersvill.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

They only colonized half of the world

Nope.

Are you sure you’re from the UK, mate?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Brexit hammered NHS staffing levels.

The UK is suffering so badly from retail/energy inflation because Brexit took sterling down from $1.65 to $1.21.

Energy, tech and most foods are priced in USD. So the decline of sterling turbo charged inflation, which led to an increase in interest rates, increasing mortgage rates.

UK domestic production is declining because of poultry culls and the loss of migrant workers on farms.

This is not down to Putin or Covid. The British government broke the British economy. You can understand why Scotland want independence. If the Tories ran your country, you would too.

The Tories think they are temporarily unpopular. The truth is, they are widely hated by the British public for what they have done. Even the pro-Brexit lobby despise them for failing to deliver the 'utopia' they thought they were going to get.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Nurses don't need to strike, instead the Population must back them up and take action to ensure that the Nurses, and Doctors who supported them during the Pandemic, are appropriately taken care of.

There will be another Pandemic, (most likely coming from one - if not all of China/Russia/Iran or North Korea). The NHS Staff are the only front line that the UK has against this, they are the ones the Public turns to for help. But where will you (the Public) be, if they have resigned because they can no longer afford to be a Medical Staffer ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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