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UK faces biggest health crisis in 75 years with 500,000 employees on strike

Since December last year, the UK has been going through a crisis in the National Health Service (NHS).

Professionals are demanding salary readjustment and better working conditions from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak; the politician points out that there are no conditions to increase salaries.

About 500,000 health workers, involving public and private sector employees, are currently on strike.

This is the largest industrial strike in 75 years in the UK, with nurses and physiotherapists also expected to join the protests by the end of the week.

UK faces biggest health crisis in 75 years with 500,000 employees on strike. (Photo internet reproduction)
UK faces biggest health crisis in 75 years with 500,000 employees on strike. (Photo internet reproduction)

The professionals justify the strike as a form of real appreciation of the wages of the category, affected by rising inflation in the UK – the highest in the last 42 years.

In October 2022, the indicator reached the value of 11.1%.

As a comparison, Brazil registered an accumulated value of 4.7% between January and October last year in this indicator.

Sunak points out that granting this valuation would put further pressure on prices and interest rates, further impacting the British economy.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union sent the Prime Minister proposals for salary readjustment last weekend, but there was still no progress in the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the British Government advises the population to go to the medical centers only in emergencies and for pre-booked appointments because the system is overloaded, causing delays and interruptions in care.

The union initially proposed a 5% readjustment but has indicated it is willing to negotiate a compromise with the Government.

The RCN points out that the lack of appreciation has impacted the continuity of the profession in the UK, with 25,000 people leaving nursing in the last year alone and 47,000 vacant nursing jobs.

The RCN argues that since 2010, salaries for healthcare professionals have fallen by 20% in real terms due to inflation.

This has impacted the quality of life of these employees, which has led many British hospitals to create food banks to help these employees.

Besides the possible impacts on the British public accounts, Sunak dismisses the adjustment, saying that the Government has invested in other public health areas, especially in purchasing medicines, supplies, and hospital machinery.

But public opinion is favorable to the health professionals’ request.

In January, a survey by the Ipsos Institute for the PA Media news agency showed that 82% of Britons sympathize with the strike and 57% blame Sunak for the situation.


According to RCN, more than 7 million Britons are waiting for medical attention in the UK, an all-time record.

With this demand, some public cases of medical malpractice have become public and have further increased the pressure against Sunak.

One example is Yusuf Mahmud Nazir, a five-year-old boy from the Sheffield area of northern England.

Yusuf died on Nov. 23 after being released from a hospital because there were no beds available, even though the child had pneumonia and had to wait several hours.

Another case that gained repercussion was that of Lesley Weekley, 73, a resident of Barry, Wales.

After the man suffered a cardiac arrest, Lesley waited two hours for an ambulance to pick up her husband from their home. Unattended, the patient died on the spot.

With the growing pressure from the public and health professionals, there is no deadline for the end of the mobilizations.

For now, there is no movement from the British GovGovernment make a counterproposal that could end the strike in the United Kingdom.

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