On February 2nd an open letter, signed by over 100,000 people, including patients, members of the public and nursing staff was delivered to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on his 100 th day in office.
According to the RCN, the letter stated: “The NHS is the bedrock of modern Britain. And it is crumbling. Nursing staff make up more than half of the NHS workforce, and they are pushed beyond their limits. Care is not safe and the public pays the price.”
“On behalf of the nursing profession, I implore you to see sense. Protect nursing to protect the public.”
The RCN said that the letter served as a warning to the Prime Minister that the NHS is “deteriorating rapidly” under his leadership, which is affecting both the health of the nation and the economy. Patricia Marquis, RCN Director for England, said: “Since he took office, the Prime Minister has failed
to deliver on his promises to the NHS.”
According to recent data, as of November 2022 nearly 7 million people are waiting for NHS treatment, which is an increase of almost one million compared to data in 2021.
Currently there are plans for RCN members to strike on 6 and 7 February at 73 NHS trusts in England and Wales, unless serious negotiations begin. Nurses have been demanding an increase in pay of 19%, but there have been indications that they may be willing to compromise on that figure. The government has said that figure is unaffordable, and Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been quoted as saying: “the NHS budget has already been set until 2024 to 2025”. According to Nursing Notes, Mr Barclay instructed the NHS pay review body to recommend a small pay rise of approximately 2% for the 2023-2024 financial period.
There have been criticisms levelled at striking nurses, with accusations of the industrial action compromising the safety of patients. But Patricia Marquis has said that: “Patients are not dying because nurses are striking. Nurses are striking because patients are dying.”