Steve Barclay to take nurses to High Court over strike action next month

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has said he will face nurses who plan to strike next month in court, in a bid to stop their action.

Mr Barclay said he will be taking legal action at the High Court against the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) over the proposed strikes on May 2.

RCN members working in the NHS in England are preparing to take industrial action for 48 hours over the May bank holiday.

They are set to walk out from 8pm, or the start of a night shift on 30 April, until 8pm or the start of the night shift on 2 May.

The action will see nurses in emergency departments, intensive care and cancer wards down tools for the first time.

NHS bosses wrote to Health Secretary Steve Barclay asking him to check the legality of the strike action, before the mandate expires in May.

In a statement released on Twitter, Mr Barclay said he had ‘no choice but to proceed with legal action’ against the Royal College of Nursing.

He said: ‘Following a request from NHS Employers I am regretfully applying to the High Court to declare the Royal College of Nursing’s planned strike action on May 2 unlawful.

‘Despite attempts by my officials to resolve the situation with the RCN over the weekend, I have been left with no choice but to proceed with legal action.

‘I firmly support the right to take industrial action within the law – but the government cannot stand by and let unlawful strike action go ahead nor ignore the request of NHS Employers.

‘We must also protect nurses by ensuring they are not asked to take part in an unlawful strike.’

The RCN said the Government had confirmed it would no longer challenge the full 48 hours of strike action, as a letter from Mr Barclay had suggested on Friday.

In an email to RCN members working for the NHS in England today, RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, said: ‘Tonight, the threat sadly became a reality. We told the government that this is wrong and indefensible.

‘The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them – including in court.

‘Before the end of the week, the court will decide whether to support this government’s use of draconian anti-Trade Union legislation.

‘If the government succeeds in silencing members like you and convinces the court to stop part of our strike, then we’ll have no choice but to cut it short.

‘Our strike action has always been safe and legal. We would never ask our members to do anything unsafe or against your professional code.

‘It’s so wrong for the government to use taxpayers’ money to drag our profession through the courts.

‘We’re determined to show that the nursing profession is strong and determined and defend our members’ right to strike.’

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