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Public support for nurses’ strikes is growing – poll

16 Jun 2023 2 minute read
Support for striking nurses outside the RCN offices in Cardiff. Picture by Ben Birchall / PA Wire.

Public support for industrial action by nurses in their long-running dispute over pay and staffing is growing, according to new research.

A survey for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found that support is now higher than it was on the eve of the first strike last December.

Almost two out of three of 2,000 people surveyed said they support striking nurses, which the RCN said is the highest for any profession taking industrial action.

More than four in five of those questioned said they back a pay rise for nurses.

Just before the RCN’s first strike in England and Wales on December 15 2022, polling of 1,728 adults showed 59% supported nurses going on strike.

Nurses in Wales began a fresh wave of strikes amid a bitter dispute over pay earlier this month, after union members rejected the Welsh Government’s revised pay offer in May.

Further action is planned on July 12 and 13.

The RCN is currently re-balloting almost 300,000 of its members in England on whether they want to keep holding strikes until the end of the year.


General secretary Pat Cullen said: “Public support this year has been immense but nursing staff have not taken it for granted.

“To know that our patients still support our campaign for fair pay is a real shot in the arm. Nurses should see that the public backs them and they can back themselves.

“The patients who came on to picket lines, many straight from a hospital bed, gave a real boost to nursing staff who worried about leaving patients. That public support is unwavering must focus attention in Downing Street.

“Rishi Sunak must look closely at the strong backing we have and understand this is unfinished business. When you do the right thing by nurses, you do the right thing by patients.

“Voters of all parties are still with us, and it appears he urgently needs to get them back on side this summer.

“Next month, as we celebrate 75 years of the NHS, this will be an election issue too.”

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