Desperate nurse criticises the government's unwillingness to resume pay talks

17 February 2023, 11:53 | Updated: 17 February 2023, 11:57

Nurse criticises the government's reluctance to negotiate

By Alice Bourne

Jonathan Ashworth hears from a nurse lambasting the government's reluctance to resume talks on nurses' pay as she says her job has become "soul-destroying".

The caller told Jonathan Ashworth that nursing "is not a job you take to get rich, we're not greedy, we're just asking for something that's fair".

This follows the announcement that thousands of A&E and cancer nurses in England are set to walk out for 48 hours in an enormous escalation of strike action. The Royal College of Nursing is allowing A&E, intensive care and cancer nurses to take to the picket line from 1 to 3 March, for the first time ever.

Jon picked up on the problem facing the NHS: "It's not just about a fair deal for everyone across our NHS, it's also about the safe care we're offering patients because you guys are so overstretched."

When the caller was asked "has it ever been as bad as this?", she responded, "it's been this bad for several years now... the data is there... it's in black and white for everyone to see".

"This isn't a new problem, winter pressure is not a new problem, but these problems are now pretty much all year round."

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Nurses striking
Nurses striking. Picture: Alamy

More than double the number of nurses are set to take part in this round of strike action with 128 out of 214 nurses in NHS trusts could walk out.

Chief executive for NHS providers Sir Julian Hartley has warned “this is the most worrying escalation of strikes yet”. With more than 140,000 appointments already postponed as a result of the strikes.

Read More: NHS nurse strike dates: When are nurses going on strike in 2023?

The health service is seeing the worst winter in history with 50,000 patients delayed a week in A&E for 12 hours over December, as revealed by The Independent. More still, almost 140,000 patients have had their surgery or appointments cancelled during strike days as NHS ambitions to cut the waiting list down take a major hit.

The nurse caller said: "I'm seeing staff that have worked here for years and years tearful, standing on the back of an ambulance tearful...its soul destroying."

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