Nursing strike: ‘We can’t maintain safe care for patients,’ nurses warn as Unite members start strike ballot

Members working in frontline patient care and essential services such as the blood and transplant services will vote on possible strike action.

Nurses have warned that they can’t maintain safe care for their patients in the current state of the NHS.

This comes as Unite has announced that almost 10,000 of its NHS members are to be balloted in the coming days over strike action.

The union, which represents 100,000 workers across the NHS, says that voting papers are going out across 36 NHS trusts and organisations across England and Wales.

Unite has announced almost 10,000 NHS members will be balloted for strike action. Credit: Claudia Marquis

Members working in frontline patient care and essential services such as the blood and transplant services will vote on possible strike action.

The ballots will close before Christmas, meaning that workers could take strike action in January 2023.

Arathi Mohanlal, a Unite member and critical care nurse at St Thomas’s hospital in Lambeth said that loads of her colleagues have left the profession due to the “dire” conditions.

Speaking to LondonWorld after coming off a 12 ½ hour night shift she explained how difficult her working conditions are.

“I’m a critical care nurse and in my unit the staffing should be one to one with patients,” she said.

“At the moment I’m looking after four patients throughout the day which is very exhausting as it’s literally four times the amount of work I’m supposed to be doing.”

Union members are voting to strike over pay and safe staffing.

Arathi Mohanlal, a Unite member and critical care nurse at St Thomas’s hospital in Lambeth

“I don’t earn enough at all to cover the cost of living in London,” said Arathi.

“I just about make do but that’s because I live alone and I have no one else to look after, just myself.

“I know a lot of my colleagues that I work with, they’re all family orientated, they’ve got two to three children that they need to look after and pay for and I know it’s very very hard for them.”

Dave Carr, a fellow Unite member and critical care nurse at St Thomas’s hospital said that his team are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver its core services.

“I think what’s really important for the public to understand is that the NHS is broken now,” he said.

People have seen the ambulance waits, they’ve unfortunately seen people dying in ambulances.

“They’ve seen the 7 million people waiting for non-urgent operations, they’ve seen the difficulties people are having getting treatments, patients being unable to be discharged from hospitals because the social care is causing bed blocking.

Dave Carr, Unite member and critical care nurse at St Thomas’s hospital

“They’re seeing an exhausted workforce.

“We have 47,000 vacancies alone for nurses in England.

“We can’t maintain safe care for patients, we can’t deliver our core services.

“Our staff are exhausted, they’re on their knees.

“This isn’t just about money in our pockets, this is about sustainability in the NHS, so we need a payrise to save the NHS.”

The union has warned that the coming Budget on November 17 is the last chance to deliver the serious investment in services and pay that are needed to prevent the looming crisis.

Ad van with a message to the prime minister Rishi Sunak and chancellor Jeremy Hunt

An ad van with the message to the prime minister Rishi Sunak and chancellor Jeremy Hunt saying ‘Your last chance to save our NHS’ will tour around Westminster until Budget Day.

The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite members are now fighting for the very existence of the NHS itself.

“Crushing staff shortages mean patients’ lives are now at risk. Twelve years of senseless cuts have driven workers from our most essential public service.

“Make no mistake, our NHS is under siege. Rishi Sunak has to wake up and smell the coffee because our NHS is being brought to ruin under his watch.

“This Thursday, in the Budget, he has one last chance to do good by the NHS and its workers.”