Nurses will stage fresh strikes over the first May bank holiday, with staff in emergency departments, intensive care units and cancer care set to take industrial action for the first time.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced on Friday that its members will walk out for 48 hours from 8pm on April 30 after rejecting the Government’s pay offer.

The RCN escalation followed a 54 per cent vote to reject an offer of a 5 per cent pay rise this year and a cash payment for last year.

The action will affect trusts across the country, including many in the South East.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen has written to Health Secretary Steve Barclay to seek urgent re-opening of talks with the Government.

She said: “What has been offered to date is simply not enough. The Government needs to increase what has already been offered and we will be highly critical of any move to reduce it.

“After a historic vote to strike, our members expect a historic pay award.”


Mr Barclay said it was “hugely disappointing” that the RCN had rejected the pay deal.

He said: “Their decision to escalate strike action with no exemptions, based on a vote from a minority of members, is also hugely concerning.

“The NHS staff council, which recommended this offer, covers a number of trade unions who are continuing to vote, and I hope this offer secures the support of a majority of members.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said strikes would have an impact on efforts to bring down NHS waiting times.

He said: “It is very challenging in the NHS anyway, but if you add the pressure of strikes on to what is already a very pressured service, it makes it very difficult to bring down waiting times and we’re dealing with a record high in waiting times after the pandemic.”

The RCN will re-ballot its members in England to see if they want to continue taking industrial action because the current mandate runs out in early May.

Full list of Sussex trusts affected:

  • East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust