Two-thirds of the public would back nursing staff taking strike action over pay in 2024, a YouGov poll has found.
According to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which commissioned the survey, the figure shows that public support for nurse strikes remains ‘steadfast’.
The RCN remains in dispute with the UK Government regarding NHS nursing pay in England, despite the implementation of a 5% pay increase for nurses on Agenda for Change contracts, along with several one-off payments, in May.
In the RCN’s last ballot, more than 100,000 of its members voted for strike action, but the turnout did not meet the legal threshold to stage further strikes.
However, the latest YouGov poll found that 60% of people support the principle of nurses taking to the picket lines.
This compares with a similar survey from a year ago, taken days before strike action by RCN members, which found public support at 59%.
In the most recent poll, 73% of the 2,054 respondents said they would support nurses going on strike in 2024 over staffing levels, while 66% would back strikes over pay.
The survey also revealed that 85% of the public believe there are not enough nurses to safely care for patients in the NHS.
According to the RCN, the issue of nurses’ pay will intensify as a general election next year approaches.
‘When politicians start canvassing voters and knocking on doors, nursing staff could again be standing on picket lines – fighting for fair pay and safe staffing levels,’ said Professor Nicola Ranger, RCN chief nurse.
According to Ms Ranger, nursing staff ‘continue to feel undervalued by those in power’.
She said: ‘No party is yet able to confidently say they can avoid further action in 2024. Political leaders must show they are ready to respect nursing staff, pay them fairly and address the staffing crisis.’
The news comes amid ongoing concerns that not all general practice nurses (GPNs) in England will receive a 6% pay rise they were promised by the government earlier this year due to funding issues.
The RCN said in a recent webinar that some GPNs had been able to achieve more than they expected after ‘asking and pushing’ their employers about the pay rise.
When contacted for comment, the Department of Health and Social Care pointed to its media factsheet on NHS strikes, which sets out details of the Agenda for Change NHS staff pay deal.