Nurses' strike in England to be cut short by one day, judge rules

27 April 2023, 13:30 | Updated: 27 April 2023, 13:35

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen gives a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen gives a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The upcoming strike by nurses in England has been cut short by one day after a ruling by a judge.

The walkout was due to begin at 8pm on Sunday and was going to last until 8pm on Tuesday but it must now end on Bank Holiday Monday.

The judge ruled that the Royal College of Nursing’s six month mandate for strike action would have lapsed by Tuesday.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay welcomed the High Court decision.

He said: "I firmly support the right to take industrial action within the law - but the government could not stand by and let plainly unlawful strike action go ahead. Both the NHS and my team tried to resolve this without resorting to legal action, but unfortunately, following a request from NHS Employers, we took this step with regret to protect nurses by ensuring they are not asked to take part in an unlawful strike.

Pat Cullen said "this is no way to treat the nursing staff in England"
Pat Cullen said "this is no way to treat the nursing staff in England". Picture: Alamy

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"We welcome the decision of the High Court that the Royal College of Nursing's planned strike on 2 May is illegal.

"The government wants to continue working constructively with the Royal College of Nursing, as was the case when we agreed the pay offer that was endorsed by their leadership. We now call on them to do the right thing by patients and agree derogations for their strike action on 30 May and 1 April."

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: "The RCN could and should have resolved this significant issue of the legality of its strike sooner.

"More than a week ago now NHS Employers approached the RCN to query whether its mandate for strike action expired at midnight on May 1 2023, and not the May 2 they had appeared to suggest.

"The RCN vigorously rejected our assertion and we were left with no choice but to ask the Secretary of State to seek the view of the courts.

"Clarity has now been achieved, not least for RCN members, and the judge has confirmed the position we set out last week: any strike action occurring on May 2 would be illegal."

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen said: "Today, what I have said is this is no way to treat the nursing staff in England.

"It's no way to drive a wedge between Government and the very people that are holding this health service together.

"Let's move on now. What we will do after this weekend is ballot our members for a further six months of industrial action.

"Steve Barclay continues to ignore their voice and that will happen immediately.

"This Government can feel they have the upper hand over nursing any day of the week.

"But the most important thing is that the public trust our nursing staff. The public have stood behind our nursing staff and the way that our nursing staff have stood behind the public, we will continue to do that.

"The nurses' voice will not be dampened by Steve Barclay or this Government."

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