Today, nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are striking for the first time over threatened real-terms pay cuts. This is the biggest ever walk-out by NHS nurses and the second day-long strike is set to take place on the 20 December.
The roots of the dispute are not hard to identify. At present nurses are earning 2 per cent less in real terms than they did in 2010 when the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government first imposed a public sector pay freeze.
Though inflation stands at a 40-year high of 10.1 per cent, the government has refused to increase its pay offer of just a 4.5 per cent rise. As recently as 2017 nurses were earning 9.2 per cent less in real terms than in 2010.
Never before in the 106-year history of the RCN had it balloted members in all four nations of the UK on strikes. It did not disclose how many of the 300,000 members it balloted participated or how many voted in favour.