Nurses in the United Kingdom have embarked on a strike to demand better pay.
According to BBC, it is the largest nurses’ strike in the history of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
It is also the first time the union will go on industrial action in its 106-year history.
The nurses had earlier in November demanded a 19 percent increase in their salary.
The NHS pay review body was said to have recommended a pay increase of at least £1,400 ($1,740) in addition to a three percent pay rise in 2021.
But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) had rejected the offer and up to 100,000 of its members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland embarked on the strike on Thursday.
Pat Cullen, RCN general-secretary, said the strike marked “a tragic day” in nursing and called on the government to “do the decent thing” to resolve the dispute.
“We need to stand up for our health service, we need to find a way of addressing those over seven million people that are sitting on waiting lists, and how are we going to do that? By making sure we have got the nurses to look after our patients, not with 50,000 vacant posts, and with it increasing day by day,” she said.
Meanwhile, Steve Barclay, UK health minister, said on Wednesday that “strikes are in no one’s interest, least of all patients”.
“Hospitals will do all they can to make sure planned procedures go ahead. But given the pressures they are already under it is inevitable there will be disruption. Some patients will have their treatment delayed and people will be contacted if their appointments need changing,” he said.
“I hope we can find a way forward to spare patients from unnecessary and unjustified disruption when we can least afford it, so we can get our NHS back on the road to recovery.”
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