Nurses in the UK have voted to strike over pay. Members from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in more than half of hospitals and community teams will walk out. Action is expected by the end of the year.
Emergency care will still be staffed, including intensive care. Other services, such as cancer care, are also likely to be given some protection.
Nurses voted to strike in every service in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Wales, all but one health board will be striking. In England, however, the turnout was too low in nearly half of NHS trusts for strike action to take place. Many of the biggest hospitals in London will see strike action by RCN members but others in England narrowly missed the legal turnout thresholds to qualify for action. Twelve NHS employers in London will be striking.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said that nurses had been getting a “raw deal” on pay for years, and that, “Anger has become action - our members are saying enough is enough.
“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this.”
Cullen assured the public that patients won’t come to any harm, despite nurses striking.
She added: “Our strike action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses - we have their support in doing this.”
One nurse described being at ‘breaking point’. Londoner Jodie Elliott said, “I never wanted to get to the point of striking, but we’re at breaking point and it feels like this is our last resort. The most experienced frontline nurses are now around £10,000 a year worse off in real terms than in 2008, so we’re essentially working the equivalent of one day a week for free. We’re also dangerously understaffed, to the point where I worry it’s risking patient safety. That’s why we’re striking: not to risk patient safety, but to save it.”
Analysis conducted by London Economics for the RCN found that nurses’s real-terms earnings had fallen by six per cent compared with 3.2 per cent for private-sector employees.
However, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) says it has offered most NHS workers a £1,400 pay rise – though this remains well below the RCN’s demand of a rise five per cent above inflation, which is currently at 9.9 per cent.
This will be the first time UK-wide action is taken by RCN members in its 106-year history.
But how much do nurses get paid? Here’s everything you need to know.
How much do nurses earn?
According to nurses.co.uk, the average wage of a UK nurse is somewhere around the £33,000 to £35,000 a year mark, with qualified nurses initially earning £20,270, rising to a maximum of £109,475 on the NHS Agenda for Change Pay Rates. For example, a newly qualified nurse starting in Band Five will earn £27,000 a year in England, rising to a minimum of £33,000 in Band Six.
A nurse’s salary rises when they take on new responsibilities, such as becoming a ward sister, ward manager, or they move to a team leader position.
Nurses who extend their skills with further training - such as a specialism in pediatrics, mental health, or intensive care - could net a higher overall salary.