PSA: Potential Nurse Strikes

28 November 2022

It is the first time in the RCN’s 106-year history that it has instigated a statutory ballot of its members across all the countries of the UK about taking industrial action.

“Anger has become action. Our members are saying enough is enough,” said Pat Cullen, the union’s general secretary and chief executive. “Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.

The impending strikes are likely to be the first in a potentially prolonged series of actions over the winter and into the spring by other groups of health workers, including junior doctors and ambulance staff. NHS bosses are bracing themselves for junior doctors, ambulance staff and others also taking action.

The move comes amid mounting action by public sector workers.

Nurses however, in our opinion have been undervalued and underpaid for far too long. Whilst we appreciate that not being able to access your rheumatology nurse specialists may cause distress and anxiety for many living with inflammatory arthritis, the decision to strike we are sure has not been an easy one to make by your nurses. Let us hope that Government will intervene with an appropriate and respectful offer on nurses’ pay and conditions as soon as possible.

The RCN has not said when the first strike will happen. But it is likely to be in early to mid-December and take place over two days, possibly a Tuesday and a Thursday, to show ministers the depth of feeling over the issue.

Experienced nurses’ salaries have fallen by 20% in real terms since 2010, according to research the RCN commissioned from the consultancy London Economics. However, the Health Foundation has calculated that nurses’ pay fell by a lot less – 5% – after adjusting for inflation between 2011 and 2021.

So regardless of your view-point on whether nurses should or should not strike, there is no arguing, we believe, that nurses deserve fair pay for the amazing work they do. Failure to address this appropriately will no doubt lead to more experienced nurses leaving the profession and will result in what is already an under-resourced health service nearing breaking point. The situation regarding the rheumatology workforce was made starkly

clear by the British Society for Rheumatology report of July 2021: Rheumatology Workforce – A Crisis in Numbers.

NRAS is already supporting rheumatology departments throughout the UK via our Helpline, our free online supported self-management e-learning programme (SMILE-RA), and referral services New2RA (for the newly/recently diagnosed) and Living With RA (for existing/longer-standing disease) as well as peer support and much more. So, should any strikes go ahead, if you are at times unable to get hold of your nurse specialist, or experience a cancelled appointment, do not feel you are alone. Whilst we cannot give personalised medical advice, our wonderful NRAS Helpline Team are available on 0800 298 7650 Mon-Fri between 09.30 and 16.30, or visit to find out more about your treatments, where to get help etc. as well as how to connect with others.

Other medical support is available if you require urgent advice or help: