RCN nurses strike 2022: Seven Merseyside hospital trusts confirmed for Christmas strike action dates

The largest walkout in the history of the NHS will commence in December.

The UK’s largest nursing union has confirmed which hospitals in the Liverpool City Region will be impacted by strikes next month.

Staff at seven NHS Trusts in the region will be part of the mass walkout of up to 100,000 nursing staff across England, Wales and Northern Ireland on December 15 and 20 in dispute over pay and safe staffing levels.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will take action at half of the locations in England where the legal mandate for strikes was secured in November.

The college says that the number of NHS employers affected by action will increase in January unless negotiations are held. The RCN’s Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is calling for a pay rise of 5% above inflation.

Hospital trusts in Liverpool City Region that will be affected by the strikes on 15 and 20 December:

  • Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

What’s been said

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have declined my offer of formal pay negotiations and instead chosen strike action. It has left us with no choice but to announce where our members will be going on strike in December.”

RCN North West Regional Director Estephanie Dunn said there are over 5,000 nursing vacancies across the North West. She told LiverpoolWorld: “The issue for nurses is they have waited for over a decade with pay restraint and the promise that this was always going to resolved in the future.

“Their pay was held back because the economy was unduly affected through something nursing staff didn’t cause. Nurses really struggled throughout those years, then COVID-19 came and now post-COVID is the massive cost-of-living crisis. Nurses whose pay had fallen behind in real terms by 20% are struggling.

“We have seen in nurses leaving the profession voting with their feet, some healthcare assistants can earn way more working at a checkout in a supermarket than in social and domiciliary care. They are tired of working without fair pay and the staff they need.

People are just making decisions about feeding their families or staying in a profession they really love.

“They are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things in very difficult circumstances. We are seeing a lot of nurses crumble and feeling they are being taken for granted with another below inflation pay offer.

“What we are saying to families, patients and members is that every day there are significant numbers of nurses returning home to say they are understaffed on shifts.

“We are saying to the public this is not just about pay, but fair pay to retain nurses in the profession now and maybe encourage others to come back, to have safe numbers every day with the right knowledge and skills for patient safety.

“We are asking employers to treat this as they would a bank holiday or public holiday and staff accordingly. We are not doing this to frighten patients or put them at risk, it is about saying enough is enough.”

In the last year, 25,000 nursing staff around the UK left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register. There are 47,000 unfilled registered nurse posts in England’s NHS alone, according to the RCN.

What will happen during the strikes?

The RCN is required by trade union statutes to provide life-sustaining care throughout the strikes. This means, some urgent cancer services, urgent tests and scans, and continuous care for vulnerable patients will be preserved alongside A&E and critical care, however exact staffing numbers on strike days will be negotiated by local health bosses and union leaders.

GP services will be unaffected because nurses working in practices were not eligible to vote.

Why are nurses going on strike?

The strike action stems from what RCN has called an “exploitation of nursing staff (that) cannot be tolerated any longer” as the pay of some experienced nurses has fallen by 20% in real terms since Conservatives took power in 2010. They had called for a pay award of 5% plus inflation – a total of about 15%.

But the government said the average basic annual pay for nurses would increase from about £35,600 to around £37,000 from March 2022, a rise of just 4%, despite the rate of inflation being the highest in the UK since the 1980s.

England’s Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, has previously said that the RCN’s demands are unaffordable and expressed his "deep regret" that union members would be protesting. He emphasised that in making its award, the government had complied with the independent NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations. Additionally, despite a public sector pay freeze, it came after a 3% salary increase given last year in acknowledgment of efforts done during the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for a comment.

Hospital trusts in Liverpool City Region that voted to strike:

In the Liverpool City Region, only Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust and Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust did not get enough votes to join the strike action. However, not all trusts will be taking part in the first wave of strikes.

  • Alder Hey Childrens NHS Foundation Trust
  • Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Found Trust
  • Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool Womens NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB
  • North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust
  • St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Found Trust
  • The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
  • Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Found Trust