UK nurses stage new walkout as strike wave intensifies

Jan 18, 2023, 3:29 AM | Updated: 7:22 am
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's...

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in parliament in London, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON (AP) — Thousands of nurses in Britain walked out Wednesday in a new protest over pay, with no end in sight to a wave of strikes that has piled pressure on the U.K.’s overburdened public health system.

Two 12-hour nursing strikes on Wednesday and Thursday affect about a quarter of hospitals and clinics in England. Emergency care and cancer treatment will continue, but thousands of appointments and procedures are likely to be postponed.

With more walkouts by nurses planned for next month — and ambulance workers announcing a new slate of February strikes — the Conservative government is under growing pressure to lift its opposition to substantial raises for health care staff.

“It’s a job that I love, but I need to pay my bills,” said intensive care nurse Nav Singh, on a picket line in London. “Nursing students don’t want to be nurses, experienced nurses are leaving, there will be no-one left and I don’t blame them, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Nurses, ambulance crews, train drivers, airport baggage handlers, border staff, driving instructors, bus drivers and postal workers have all walked off their jobs in recent months to demand higher pay amid a cost-of-living crisis.

Inflation in the U.K. hit a 41-year high of 11.1% in October, driven by sharply rising energy and food costs, before easing slightly to 10.5% in December.

The nurses’ union has been seeking a pay raise of 5% above inflation, though it has said it will accept a lower offer.

Pat Cullen, head of the Royal College of Nursing union, urged health officials to “get round a table and let’s stop the strikes so we don’t have to continue this into February.”

“I would say to the prime minister this morning: If you want to continue to have strikes, then the voice of nursing will continue to speak up on behalf of their patients and that’s exactly what you will get,” she told ITV.

The British government argues that double-digit public sector pay increases will drive inflation even higher.

“Unaffordable pay hikes will mean cutting patient care and stoking the inflation that would make us all poorer,” Health Secretary Steve Barclay wrote in the Independent newspaper.

The government also has angered unions by introducing a bill that will make it harder for key workers to strike by setting “minimum safety levels” for firefighters, ambulance services and railways that must be maintained during a walkout.

The nursing union has announced two more strike days next month, when disruption across the economy looks set to intensify. Feb. 1 is shaping up to be the most disruptive day yet, with walkouts by teachers, train drivers, civil servants and university staff.

The GMB union said Wednesday that 10,000 ambulance call handlers, paramedics and other staff across most of England will strike on February 6 and 20 and March 6 and 20.

“Our message to the government is clear — talk pay now,” said GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison.

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer accused the government of presiding over “lethal chaos” in the state-funded National Health Service, with many patients waiting hours for ambulances in emergencies.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the health system was dealing with “unprecedented challenges,” but insisted the government was spending extra money to relieve the pressure — though he did not mention staff demands for higher pay.

“We are investing more in urgent and emergency care to create more bed capacity, we are ensuring that the flow of patients through emergency care is faster than it ever has been,” Sunak said in the House of Commons.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A worker inspects solar panels at Premier Energies Solar on the outskirts of Hyderabad, India, Wedn...
Associated Press

Taxes slow India’s solar power rollout but boost manufacture

BENGALURU, India (AP) — In May last year Fortum India, a subsidiary of a Finnish solar developer, won the bid for a solar power project in the state of Gujarat. The project was due to be completed three months ago and would have generated enough electricity for 200,000 homes. But like many other solar power […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

3 kids taken in Nebraska carjacking found with frostbite

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Three young children were being treated for frostbite in Nebraska Sunday after police said two suspects stole an SUV while they were inside. Around 3 a.m. Sunday, when temperatures were around 0 degrees, a man reported that his 2012 Chevrolet Traverse had been stolen with his three children inside, said […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Netherland's Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden during a ...
Associated Press

Source: Dutch, Japanese join US limits on chip tech to China

WASHINGTON (AP) — Japan and the Netherlands have agreed to a deal with the U.S. to restrict China’s access to materials used to make advanced computer chips, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press on Sunday. The person declined to be identified because the deal hasn’t yet been formally announced. It’s unclear […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Missouri mom convicted of killing her infant twins

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri mother who reported that her infant twins were stillborn has been convicted of manslaughter. Maya Caston, 28, was convicted Friday of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and two counts of child endangerment. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that jury found her guilty of lesser charges instead of convicting her of second-degree […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Annie Wersching arrives at the FOX Winter All-Star Party in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 11, 20...
Associated Press

’24,’ ‘Runaways’ actor Annie Wersching has died at 45

Actor Annie Wersching, best known for playing FBI agent Renee Walker in the series “24” and providing the voice for Tess in the video game “The Last of Us,” has died. She was 45. Wersching passed away Sunday morning in Los Angeles following a battle with cancer, her publicist told The Associated Press. The type […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Baby girl found abandoned in Florida an hour after birth

MULBERRY, Fla. (AP) — Florida authorities found a newborn girl wrapped in a blanket and still attached to a placenta on a hill outside a trailer park early Saturday morning. Polk County deputies responding to a call about a baby crying outside near Mulberry, east of Tampa, found the girl about an hour after she […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
UK nurses stage new walkout as strike wave intensifies