Health Secretary Steve Barclay has “regrettably” decided to pursue legal action to halt the second day of nurses strikes next month. He firmly believes in the right to strike but believes the planned walkout on May 2 falls outside the legal mandate for industrial action.
Mr Barclay, who sent a pre-action letter to the courts yesterday (FRI), warned nurses involved in unlawful action could be in breach of their code of conduct.
Health and Social Care Steve Barclay said:
“Following a request from NHS Employers I have regretfully provided notice of my intent to pursue legal action to ask the courts to declare the Royal College of Nursing’s upcoming strike action planned for 30 April to 2 May to be unlawful.
“The government firmly believes in the right to strike, but it is vital that any industrial action is lawful and I have no choice but to take action.
“Strike action with no national exemptions agreed, including for emergency and cancer care, will also put patient safety at risk.
“This legal action also seeks to protect nurses who could otherwise be asked to take part in unlawful activity that could in turn put their professional registration at risk and would breach the requirements set out in the nursing code of conduct.”
Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, responding to government ‘letter before action’ and threat of interim court order to stop entire 48-hour nurse strike, said: “This is nakedly political. Nurses will not be gagged in this way by a bullying government.
“We are clear that court arguments should only relate to 2nd May and not the 30th April and 1st May.
“The government is now desperate to silence nurses rather than address this properly. We want to be in the negotiating room, not the courtroom.”
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