Running Time: 10 mins 20 secs
Make no mistake: nurses are striking to save the NHS. The depth of feeling is shown by the fact that it is the Royal College of Nurses – a union who throughout its 106 year history has had a no strike policy – is now the first healthworkers union to take strike action.
The consequences of years of underfunding by the Tories, and a cut in nurses pay in real terms by a third in the last decade, means that staff shortages are now so bad that they simply can’t deliver the service they’ve been trained to do. 50,000 nurse vacancies, 11,000 in London alone, and rising rapidly all the time as nurses find better pay and conditions in other countries, or in the private sector here – or are so traumatised by the experience of trying to save people during the pandemic, with no help for the mental and physical strain whatsoever from the Government, that they’ve had to leave. 640 healthworkers died in the first wave of COVID – that’s three and a half times the amount of UK soldiers who died in the war in Iraq.
So without a substantial pay rise, the NHS will collapse. Which is what the Tories want. They’re not interested in resolving this dispute – they want it to fail so they can privatise the whole of the NHS, a process that has accelerated rapidly since the 2012 Health & Social Care Act.
But this strike shows the determination of nurses to make sure that doesn’t happen – and the solidarity shown by other groups of workers on strike today points to the solidarity and coordinated action that can stop this corrupt disgrace of a Government. As a nurse says in the video: “I think the fight for the future of the NHS is the fight for the future of our country.”