The NHS Strikes
Since the tailend of 2022, countless NHS strikes have been sending the UK into a frenzy. With rising inflation comes rising numbers of underpaid and overworked medical staff, and without concessions from the government, healthcare workers have been forced to battle the line between upholding their duties and making a necessary stand in protest. But that line has been crossed.
A few days ago, the Royal College of Nursing announced that it would be holding a 48 hour strike from the 1st to the 3rd of March - a huge change from the previous 12 hour strike protocols during the day shift. As the nursing union comprises 300,000 members, a whopping two-thirds of the NHS nurses will be participating. This doesn’t come free of consequences.
With so many workers on strike, there will undoubtedly be a distinct lack of staff on the clock. This may lead to some dangerous repercussions as patients in need of aid come in without enough healthcare professionals to treat them. Immediate attention will be given to those in the most life-threatening states (for example, cardiac arrest) in the form of an ambulance. However, less urgent calls will not be prioritised - non-life threatening injuries are therefore very unlikely to get emergency care.
The Royal College stated that the NHS will be requested to use non-RCN nurses to cover for these missed shifts, and that only under unavoidable circumstances will they stop the strike to attend to urgent patient care.
This is not the only major strike which will be taking place - an alarming 98% of the junior doctors in the British Medical Association voted in favour of a 72 hour walkout sometime during March (date unconfirmed as of now). The long duration of this strike is alarming but expected, as discontent with the British parliament grows while a compromise isn’t attained.
But why are these workers striking in the first place? Salaries. Since 2010, the salaries of the NHS nurses have decreased by 10% accounting for inflation, so the 4% pay rise offered last year was simply not enough to make up for a decade’s worth of costs.
Criticised for ignoring patient safety - considered the number one priority in a healthcare career - representatives of the association stressed that it was not a light decision.
"This vote shows, without a shadow of a doubt, the strength of feeling among most of England’s junior doctors," said the BMA in a statement. "We are frustrated, in despair and angry and we have voted in our thousands."
When faced with the alarming numbers of healthcare workers voting in favour of these strikes, it shows that these issues are of paramount importance - both for the future of the NHS and for the fulfilment of patient care.