LONDON—The British government has made its “full and final” pay offer to nurses, following the rejection by members of a major nursing union who voted to proceed with more strikes. The strikes will include emergency wards and cancer care for the first time, and there are concerns that they could last until Christmas, according to the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing.

“We will immediately move to re-ballot our members in June, and if that is successful, then those strikes will last until Christmas,” RCN chief Pat Cullen told the BBC this morning. “But again, I would make a plea to the government this morning, let’s bring an end to this as we get around the table, and put more money on the table and bring the strikes to an end.”

There are concerns about the impact of the strikes on patients and the National Health Service (NHS) if they continue. While the Royal College of Nursing stated that there are no plans to coordinate strikes with junior doctors, the possibility has not been ruled out. The latest strike, scheduled for the first bank holiday in May, will include intensive care departments for the first time, seen as an escalation of strikes. The government maintains that the offer is fair.

“It is an incredibly strong offer. £5100 on of a band five nurse. Are you going to increase that? It is a strong offer that has been accepted by quite a few others,” said Chairman of the Conservative Party Greg Hands on BBC. “Bosses say it is not sustainable to keep managing the impacts of strikes. Unions are so far not backing down.”

Health Secretary Steve Barclay expressed disappointment over the rejection of the pay deal in a letter to the Royal College of Nursing’s chief Pat Cullen. He proposed talks to prevent further escalation of the situation and emphasized that the pay offer was still valid.


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