On December 18th, 2019, more than 30,000 nurses in the United Kingdom went on strike in the biggest walkout in the history of the National Health Service (NHS). The strike was organized by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), a professional organization for nurses in the UK. The nurses were protesting a number of issues, including pay, pensions, staffing levels, and changes to the NHS workforce. The RCN and other health unions have argued that nurses are not being adequately compensated for their work and that there is a lack of staff in many hospitals. The strike was the first of its kind in the NHS since 1974 and lasted for four hours. During this time, nurses across the UK walked out of their workplaces and gathered in a number of locations in London, Manchester, and other cities to demonstrate their demands. The walkout was seen as a success by the RCN, with many nurses joining a number of demonstrations in different cities. While it did not achieve the desired outcome of higher wages and improved staffing levels, the strike did bring attention to the issues faced by nurses in the NHS and sparked a conversation about the importance of properly compensating medical staff. Since the strike, the RCN has to lobby for better pay and working conditions for nurses.
They have also launched a petition calling on the government to address the issues raised by the strike. The petition has been signed by more than a million people and continues to attract signatures. Nurse strikes have been occurring in the UK since the 1990s, but the December walkout was the largest demonstration of its kind in the history of the NHS. It highlighted the need for better pay and working conditions for nurses, and the RCN continues to fight for these improvements. While the future of nurses’ pay and working conditions is still uncertain, the December strike has shown that nurses are willing to stand up for their rights. The RCN is continuing to push for better pay and working conditions, and it is hoped that the action taken by nurses in December will result in real improvements for them and the NHS.