Ciupijus Z, Forde C, Giralt RM, Shi J, Sun L. The UK National Health Service's migration infrastructure in times of Brexit and COVID-19: Disjunctures, continuities and innovations. International Migration. 2022;

Department of Health. Policy paper: NHS bursary reform. 2017. (accessed 31 January 2023)

NHS England and NHS Improvement. Chapter 4: NHS staff will get the backing they need. 2019. (accessed 31 January 2023)

NHS Digital. NHS vacancy statistics England April 2015-September 2022: Experimental statistics. 2022a. (accessed 31 January 2023)

NHS Digital. NHS sickness absence rates, April 2022, provisional statistics. 2022b. (accessed 31 January 2023)

Royal College of Nursing. RCN Employment Survey 2021. 2021. (accessed 31 January 2023)

Royal College of Nursing. Two-thirds of the public now support nurse strike, poll shows, as Royal College of Nursing announces increased strike payments for members. 2022. (accessed 31 January 2023)

UCAS. UCAS Undergraduate Sector-Level End of Cycle Data Resources. 2022. (accessed 31 January 2023)

Nursing strikes: read between the picket lines

09 February 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 3


Claire Osborne, Paediatric Advanced Practitioner, Oxford University Hospitals (, reflects on the reasons behind the nursing strikes and the level of support for action

December 2022 saw the start of the first ever strikes by Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members, simultaneously presenting a mixture of feelings, including sadness, pride, and solidarity. Sadness that the nursing workforce has been compelled to take this action through decades of government shortfalls, but pride in the solidarity of nurses seeking to safely staff our profession in the long term, ultimately protecting our patients.

However, the Health Secretary and mainstream media seem intent on focusing on ‘unreasonable pay demands’ and ‘maintaining safety’ during any disruptions. The picket lines tell a different story. This isn't just about nursing salaries, this is about safe staffing and a sustainable professional workforce in the NHS, both now and in the future. We know wages have remained stagnant in relation to inflation, presenting nurses with real terms pay cuts as living costs are rising faster than salaries, but this is only one contributing factor to the workforce issues we are facing.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content