‘We’re exhausted and deflated’ – nurses’ stories from across the country

UK

Tens of thousands of nurses have gone on strike across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in their first mass walkout in over a century.

Picket lines were formed at dozens of hospitals, while thousands of NHS appointments and operations have been cancelled, with the health service running a bank holiday-style service in many areas.

‘Tragic day for the NHS’ – nurses’ strike latest

This is the picture from across the UK.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside the Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
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Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside Great Ormond Street Hospital in London as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
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Great Ormond Street Hospital in London
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
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Freeman Hospital in Newcastle

‘It’s with a heavy heart that I am out here today’

Nurses on the picket line at Aintree Hospital in Liverpool spoke to Sky News about why they are striking today.

Matron Rose James has been in the NHS for 38 years. She said now it is “much more difficult for nurses to come into the jobs after they took away the bursary”.

“So trainee nurses have to spend money training and for what? To be paid in some cases less than if you worked in a coffee shop. That’s not right. We need to retain our brilliant nurses.”

Rose James
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Rose James

Research nurse Glyn Fletcher works with stroke patients and has been in the NHS for 35 years. He said: “I love my job. I was actually very upset when I voted for strike action.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I am out here today. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to come to the picket line. But we have to. Nursing is in crisis and pay is a big part of that.

“But we also need the government to recognise that without nurses the NHS simply cannot function.”

Glyn Fletcher
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Glyn Fletcher
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside the University Hospital Wales in Cardiff as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
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University Hospital Wales in Cardiff
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside Leeds General Infirmary as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
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Leeds General Infirmary
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside Belfast City Hospital in Belfast as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
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Belfast City Hospital

‘We are exhausted and deflated’

Deputy ward manager Catherine Hughes-McGreal said she wants the government to “sit up and listen to us”.

“We have insufficient staffing numbers and it’s not sustainable. This all comes down to patient safety. None of us want to be out here but we’ve got no choice.

“Sometimes we’re so overstretched that we are worried that mistakes are going to be made and people are going to die. It’s horrible.”

Deputy Ward Manager Catherine Hughes-McGreal
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Catherine Hughes-McGreal

Nursing associate Alison Kamperis said the government is “trying their best to wreck the NHS”.

“Yes, we want better pay. But it’s not just about pay. It’s about trying to keep our brilliant nurses in this profession. We are exhausted and deflated and it’s about time the government gave us a fair deal.”

Nursing Associate Alison Kamperis
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Alison Kamperis
NHS nurses hold placards during a strike, amid a dispute with the government over pay, outside Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest, Britain December 15, 2022. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
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Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
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Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on the picket line outside the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
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Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool

‘We can’t guarantee the job is as safe as it should be’

Nurse Dave Carr has worked in the NHS for 40 years. Speaking from London, he said: “We cannot deliver guarantee patient safety any more.

“We can’t guarantee the job is as safe as it should be. We need a pay rise not just for money in our pockets, but to retain staff to keep staff, in fact, we need a pay rise to save the NHS.”

Dave Carr
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Dave Carr

Ethna Vaughan said the “whole NHS is under pressure and everyone feels it”.

She added: “The short-sighted attitude of the government and not paying nurses enough means in the long term, it’s difficult to get nurses into the profession and it’s difficult for nurses who want to stay because they can’t afford to.”

Ethna Vaughan, on left.
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Ethna Vaughan, on left.

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