Industrial action comes in two forms; strike action and action short of a strike.
There is a long-held belief amongst many nurses and other healthcare professionals that they are totally prohibited by regulators from taking part in industrial action.
Industrial action comes in two forms; strike action and action short of a strike. Examples of action short of a strike are work-to-rule or the withdrawal of overtime working, while a strike is the complete stoppage of work.
Unions must hold a ballot of members before organising either form of industrial action, and it must meet the required thresholds. In England, Scotland, and Wales, ballots must attract at least a 50% turnout, and the majority must vote yes for action to be lawful.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have confirmed that nurses, midwives and nursing associates do have the right to take part in strike action.
A previous statement by the NMC explains registrants “have a right to take part in lawful industrial action, including strike action”, just like any other employee in the UK. Employers have the responsibility to “minimise disruption to the care of patients and people using services” by ensuring there is adequate contingency planning in place, they explain.
The NMC does emphasise, however, that the Code remains in place, even during strike action, and the actions and behaviour of registrants are expected to align with this.