Thousands of nurses across the country are striking today leaving thousands of appointments cancelled across the health service.
It’s the first of two days’ of industrial action – the second is on Tuesday 20th December.
Dr Mark Pickering, who is from the Christian Medical Fellowship, has been speaking to Premier about the reasons for the walkout:
“Whilst we hear the headlines about pay, so much of this is about conditions, the state of NHS recruitment and retention and what it's like for nurses on the frontline day after day who are struggling in different ways.
“They tell stories of things like not being able to take their breaks, not even getting to sit down for a cup of tea, whereas in many other roles you would get a protected lunch break. Some members say they can’t even get out of the ward or drink a cup of tea in peace.
“It’s a very stressful situation and the wider pressures in the NHS are feeding down to individual nurses. If you're chronically understaffed, exhausted, not able to do the job that you would like to be able to do, that’s a massive thing. So many nurses will talk about how they really want to be caring for patients doing a good job. But if they feel that they're constantly rushing from one half done job to another and under lots of pressure with targets and other things, then that’s a toxic mixture.”
The Royal College of Nursing, which is taking industrial action for the first time in its 106 year history, is calling for a 19 per cent pay rise and says below inflation increases are compromising care by making it hard to attract and retain nurses.
Dr Pickering says he believes there are many issues contributing to the situation:
“It would probably make a big difference to increase pay significantly. But I think working conditions and morale within the NHS are also really big issues. I think it's incredibly important that we can pray for those people who are involved. If you've got nurses in your church, please pray for them. Ask them how they're doing.
“This is much bigger than pay - I think it’s a big groundswell of stress across the NHS.”