Striking nurses would return to work for emergencies, says RCN head

Striking nurses would return to work for emergencies, says RCN head –

NHS nurses staging the latest strike in England on Monday would return to work if emergencies arise, their union leader has confirmed.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: “Our nurses will continue to work today to ensure our patients are kept safe, and those nurses that are on the picket lines losing a day’s pay, should there be other emergencies that arise during that period, I won’t even have to ask those nurses to return to work, they will return at their own volition.”

She said the RCN, whose members are taking industrial action in England, has granted “the majority if not all of the exemptions requested” for some nurses in critical care to work during the industrial action.

Cullen also disputed the claim by Steve Barclay, the health secretary, that he had been engaging with the RCN over the weekend.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Cullen said: “I have had absolutely no talks with Steve Barclay over the weekend, that’s factually incorrect.” She also said she had not spoken with any of his officials either.

The strike, which began at 8pm on Sunday and is set to end just before midnight on Monday, is likely to cause major disruption to NHS services.

NHS England warned the strikes “will have a significant impact upon planned and routine care”.

A high court judge had ruled it would be unlawful for the industrial action to continue into Tuesday as originally planned.

The strike by the RNC will coincide with industrial action from NHS Unite members.

Monday will also see NHS workers march in central London. Unite said the march would coincide with a strike by its members in Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust and the Yorkshire ambulance service.

Nurses at Great Ormond Street hospital (GOSH) will continue to work after the hospital voiced “serious concerns” about patient safety during the walkout.

Last month, RCN members rejected the government’s offer of a 5% pay rise this year and a cash payment for last year. The union’s leadership had recommended its members accept the offer.

Speaking about the offer and the decision by RCN members to reject it, Cullen told Good Morning Britain: “There were some elements of the pay offer that were attractive to our ruling council, for example around safe nurse staffing policy work that’s required in order for us to be able to move to a place where we have safe nurse staffing legislation in place.

“Another element that was attractive to put to our members was around a separate pay structure for nursing that recognises that they are a critical profession, and their expertise.

“Those elements were put to our members. Our council made the decision that it wasn’t for them to hold that money back from our nursing staff who are really struggling.”

“There’s no credibility issues here, our nursing staff have spoken up loud and clear,” she added.

Unite rejected the government’s pay offer, call it a “substantial real-terms pay cut” for NHS workers.

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