NHA Party Statement on the RCN's Historic Strike Vote
The National Health Action Party wholeheartedly stands with staff in the NHS, and social care, who are being forced into taking this unprecedented action to address a long-term decline in pay over the last decade.
On 9th November, members of the Royal College of Nursing made history by voting for UK-wide industrial action for the first time in 106 years. The National Health Action Party wholeheartedly stands with staff in the NHS, and social care, who are being forced into taking this unprecedented action to address a long-term decline in pay over the last decade.
But this is not just about personal income, nor has this action by nurses and midwives been taken lightly. It is in many ways a mass whistleblowing about an NHS in crisis. A crisis deliberately fostered at the highest political levels by those - in Parliament and out - who wish to remodel the NHS into a part-privatised, two-tier entity that ends our proud NHS' history of the very best medical care for all based on need, not on the ability to pay.
As a result of systematic, deliberate underfunding for more than a decade, one in ten NHS posts is currently unfilled. The ravages in our emergency services, hospitals and communities are harming and even killing those our NHS was set up to serve. Grave concerns about patient safety, exacerbated by staff shortages, have gone unaddressed and ignored.
Life expectancy across the country was falling even before the Covid-19 pandemic, caused by rising poverty and destititution in one of the richest countries in the world. In the last decade, the political choice of "austerity" - widening the poverty gap with the promise that wealth will "trickle down" rather than a fair taxation system to pay for universal provision to raise all boats - has led to almost a third of a million excess deaths.
The National Health Action Party believes the strike action announced by the Royal College of Nursing is necessary not only for the good of a profession that has given so much - in the last few years especially - but as a first step to restoring the NHS as a safe health service that is publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable.
The NHA congratulates nurses and midwives on the outcome of their ballot and urges all our members and supporters to show solidarity by visiting picket lines outside their local hospitals, health centres and ambulance stations. We urge anyone who is financially able to do so, to donate to a trade union strike or hardship fund to help those in most need.