Nurses in the United Kingdom on Thursday launched an unprecedented one-day strike in what they called a “last resort” in their fight for better pay and working conditions, despite warnings the move could put patients at risk.

Up to 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing union in England, Wales and Northern Ireland stopped working at 8:00 am and will continue until 20:00 GMT after they rejected a government offer to increase their wages.

The move by the Royal College of Nursing is part of a growing wave of strikes by public and private sector workers.

Several demonstrators gathered in front of government hospitals in London.

Amira, a nurse based in London, told AFP on condition of anonymity that the decision to strike was “not easy”.

The strike is the first in the history of the Royal College of Nursing since its founding 106 years ago.

“We are tired and fed up,” Amira said, adding: “We need to raise wages to make a living.”

The United Kingdom is in a cost of living crisis with accelerating inflation outpacing wage growth.

Union leaders and medical staff have stressed that nurses are under a lot of pressure due to understaffing, while NHS facilities are suffering from backlogs, exacerbated by the many cancellations during the pandemic.

This step will not affect a number of medical services, such as chemotherapy, dialysis and intensive care units.

However, according to the Royal College of Nursing, many of the rest of the nursing staff will be reduced to their lowest level during the move.

Acting CEO of NHS Facility Operators Saffron Cordry stressed that the agency is working hard to minimize the impact of the movement on patients.

“The scene in the country will be different,” she said, referring to the efforts being made by local unions to mitigate the effects of the strike.

On November 9, a vote was taken in favor of this strike, and two days of action were announced, on December 15 and 20, after “the government refused to negotiate.”

It is estimated that real wages for nurses have fallen by 20% since 2010, largely due to the current cost of living crisis with inflation exceeding 11%. The annual salary of a nursing assistant is £27,000 (€31,400).

But for Health Minister Steve Barclay, “this is a difficult time for everyone” and the government is unable to meet the “unacceptable” demands of the Royal College of Nursing, which “represent a 19.2% pay increase.”

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Irene Diaz is a celebrity news reporter who started her career as a TV News Reporter. She then progressed into fashion & beauty reporting and eventually jumped from TV to the web, where she worked as a Senior Editor at 24PalNews. Irene believes that if she can, so can you. She’s a firm believer that anything is possible. Her motto is, “It’s all about believing.”

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