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Nurses begin new walkouts in Wales as pay row continues

06 Jun 2023 4 minute read
Madelaine Watkins joins members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside the RCN offices by Cardiff University Hopsital. Picture by Ben Birchall / PA

Nurses in Wales have begun a fresh wave of strikes amid a bitter dispute over pay.

The Royal College of Nursing said its members would walk out on June 6 and 7.

But the union has agreed a number of exemptions, including cancer care, critical care and some children’s services.

And it said it will also staff a number of services on “night duty levels”, including emergency departments and community care.

It comes after union members rejected the Welsh Government’s revised pay offer in May.

However, because the deal was accepted by the majority of other unions, the Welsh Government implemented the deal.

The Welsh Government has said the average pay award for NHS staff in Wales – apart from doctors, dentists and senior managers – is 15.7% over two years from 2022/23 and 2023/24, 11.2% of which will be permanently in pay packets with the rest made up with one-off payments.

The RCN said the pay deal “does not go far enough to reward nursing staff fairly and support them with the spiralling cost of living” as it announced that strike action on June 6 and 7 and July 12 and 13 will go ahead as planned.

The union has called on the Welsh Government to reopen negotiations.


A Welsh Government spokesman said: “While we recognise the strength of feeling among members, we are disappointed that strike action is continuing despite the collective decision to accept the Agenda for Change pay offer by the Wales Partnership Forum Business Committee.

“We are working with the NHS, unions and partners to ensure life-saving and life-maintaining care is provided during the industrial action, patient safety is maintained and disruption is minimised.

“But it is vital that all of us to do all we can to minimise pressure on our health service during the industrial action and consider carefully what activities we take part in.

“Anyone in immediate danger should call 999 and we encourage people to use the NHS 111 Wales website for health advice where there is no immediate threat to life, or speak to or visit a pharmacist, GP or minor injuries unit.”

Plaid Cymru’s Spokesperson for Health and Care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, said: “The Welsh Government’s recent pay offer for our NHS nurses is still below what is needed to bring wages back to the levels they were back in 2008, and still well below inflation – health workers will still face a cut salary in real terms.

“Plaid Cymru is proud to stand, once again with our striking nurses, and we continue to back their calls for fair pay and working conditions.

“This dispute has gone on for much too long, and we urge the Welsh Government to find a resolution that gives the nurses the fair pay that they deserve.

“In Plaid Cymru, we fully support our hard-working nurses as they stand up against the real-terms pay cuts and the crisis in their workforce. Time and again we have urged the Welsh Government to look at all the powers they have to prioritize fairer pay for all health and care workers.”

Dereliction of duty

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Russell George MS said: “It is clear that after nurses here in Wales rejected the Labour Government’s latest pay offer, not enough has been done to avert the strikes that will be causing disruption today, tomorrow and inevitably beyond.

“Patients in Wales are already suffering from significant waiting times for treatment, in A&E and for ambulances. With 1-in-4 people in Wales on a waiting list and Labour having missed their target of eliminating inhuman 2-year waits, which still stand at over 30,000, this disruption will act as a further setback.

“Given that the Labour Health Minister said that this was her ‘final’ offer, it would be a dereliction of duty for her to not get around the table and resolve this with urgency.”

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