Nursing staff gather outside Wigan Infirmary as latest strike gets under way

Pickets gathered outside Wigan Infirmary today (Monday) as nurses in England took part in a fresh strike over pay.
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A group gathered on the main road outside the hospital with signs demanding fair pay for nurses.

NHS leaders said today’s walkout by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) would be “extremely difficult”, leading to low staffing levels which would also affect critical services – including intensive care.

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However RCN leaders said nurses would abandon picket lines in case of an emergency.

The picket line outside Wigan Infirmary todayThe picket line outside Wigan Infirmary today
The picket line outside Wigan Infirmary today
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The walkout by RCN members started at 8pm on Sunday and will end just before midnight today (Monday).

It was originally supposed to continue into Tuesday but a High Court judge ruled it would be unlawful because a six-month mandate for action had expired.

The strike was called earlier this month after RCN members rejected a government offer to nurses in England of a five per cent pay rise for 2023-24 and a one-off payment of at least £1,655 to top up last year's salary, depending on staff grade.

Striking nurses outside Wigan Infirmary todayStriking nurses outside Wigan Infirmary today
Striking nurses outside Wigan Infirmary today
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RCN leadership had recommended members accept the offer but it was rejected by 54 per cent to 46.

General secretary of the RCN Pat Cullen defended her union’s support for ongoing strikes despite previously recommending nurses accept an offer from the Government.

Speaking about the offer and the decision by RCN members to reject it, Ms Cullen told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “What our nursing staff said was it was neither fair nor reasonable – it puts money in their pockets now but in the long term it doesn’t address recruitment and retention issues.

“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.