When do nurses go on strike and how will it affect me?

Zuma via PA Images December 21, 2022, London, UK: Ambulance workers and nurses are on strike this week as they demand a pay rise. The Nurses Union is giving ministers until Thursday to open wage negotiations at early signs of an attempt to end the dispute and prevent the NHS from collapsing. (Credit Image: © Velar Grant/ZUMA Press Wire)

Nurses are set to go on strike again this week in England (Image: Zuma Press/PA Images/Velar Grant)

Nurses across the UK made history in November by voting to strike for the first time in the 106-year history of the Royal College of Nursing.

The strikes in December and January affected hospitals across the country and now more strikes are due to take place in England this week.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has confirmed its members in England are backing out in disputes over pay and patient safety.

But when exactly do the nurses go on strike and how do the strikes affect the public?

Here’s everything you need to know.

When do nurses go on strike?

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in England will pounce Monday 6th February and Tuesday 7th February.

nurses are on strike

Nurses will picket again in England (Image: Steve Taylor/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)

The first round of strikes took place on December 15-20 after negotiations between the union and the health minister failed to reach an agreement.

RCN Secretary-General Pat Cullen described the prime minister’s position at the impasse as “confusing, reckless and politically ill-considered”.

Ministers are now pushing for new legislation requiring minimum service on strike days. These would take around six months to pass through Parliament.

Further strikes took place on January 18th and 19th.

Why are nurses on strike?

The RCN has said NHS nurses have suffered a 20 per cent pay cut in real terms since 2010.

The union is campaigning for a 5% wage increase above inflation to help nurses overcome real pay cuts, support nurses through the cost of living crisis and recognize their critical skills.

There are also record job vacancies in nursing: 25,000 nursing staff resigned last year.

New data released by the NHS shows that in December more than 54,500 patients in England faced emergency department waits of more than 12 hours before being admitted – the highest since August 2010, when the data began.

Photo of patients in hospital corridor

In some hospitals, patients are treated in corridors (Image: Trinity)

Patricia Marquis, RCN director for England, said: “Some of what we’re hearing from the front line is incredible.

“Corridor maintenance seems to have become the norm. Some nurses are posted to work in hospital corridors.

“The government has had months and months to address this but has not acted. They must backtrack on years of underinvestment in nursing, starting with an immediate pay rise.

“Nursing means saying enough is enough and standing up for your patients. The strikes are a protest against unsafe care.”

However, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he deeply regrets that some union members voted to go on strike.

Mr Barclay added that the union was “out of step” with the UK’s economic situation and the RCN’s demands were not “reasonable or affordable”.

Which NHS trusts are taking part in strike action?

RCN members from around 71 NHS trusts in England are to resign.

Strikes have been suspended in Scotland to allow further talks following proposals from the Scottish Government – and the Welsh Government has presented a salary offer, meaning the February strikes in Wales have been called off at the time of writing.

The RCN does not plan strikes in Northern Ireland, where there is no executive.

Nurses at University College London Hospital – and others under the UCLH umbrella – are on strike among others (Image: Joshua Bratt/PA Wire)

NHS Trusts and employers on strike in England

East Midlands

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust


Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust


Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust
St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust


Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS has found trust
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust
Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS has found trust
Clatterbridge Cancer Center NHS has found trust
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
The Walton Center NHS Foundation Trust


Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust University Hospitals
The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust
North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust

South East

University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust
Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
Southeast Coast Ambulance Service
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust


Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust
Bristol University Hospitals and Weston NHS Foundation Trust
Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust
University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust
Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust
North Bristol NHS Trust
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
South Western Ambulance Service NHS has found trust

West Midlands

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
The Royal Orthopedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Yorkshire & Humber

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust
The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The full list is also available on the RCN website.

How will the strike action affect the public?

File photo dated 01/27/21 of nurses working on the nurses' station. Nurses across the UK have voted to strike in the first nationwide lawsuit over a pay dispute. The strike vote of more than 300,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) was the largest in the union's 106-year history. Issue date: Saturday November 5, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRIE RCN. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Nurses are leaving over concerns about pay and patient safety (Image: PA)

The care strikes will inevitably limit the level of care the NHS can provide.

However, ensuring that emergency services and A&E services continue to run will be a priority.

Hospitals offer weekend or holiday care.

Non-urgent surgeries are postponed, as are outpatient visits and sessions of chemotherapy and kidney dialysis.

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, called planned strikes “unacceptable” because they would disrupt patient care.

However, he did not criticize the nurses or the union, instead blaming ministers for their lack of negotiation with the RCN.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents most NHS organisations, said there were plans in place to minimize the impact on patients, but warned the strikes pose a “challenge” to healthcare and NHS leaders would.

He said: “We are already tackling the gap that exists between public demand for the health service. We have to meet that need and we all know that we are heading for an already very difficult winter.

“Then we add industrial action and it becomes an extremely difficult task. The priority will be to try to minimize patient harm.’

MORE: Ministers should stop avoiding pay talks, Unite union leader says ahead of more ambulance strikes

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