How will the nurse’s strikes affect my cancer treatment?

The information on this page relates to nursing strikes that took place at the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023.  

Some nurses across the UK belong to the unions who have accepted the government’s pay offer, these are the Royal College of Nursing and Unison. Nurses who belong to the Unite rejected this offer and in some NHS Trusts in England some nurses may go on strike. This might impact care for some young people with cancer. 

What is a strike? 

A strike, sometimes also called ‘industrial action’, is when people refuse to work for their employer.   

This happens because the group are in a disagreement with their employers, and they haven’t been able to solve the issue with negotiations (conversations).  

Why are nurses striking? 

It’s not an easy decision for anyone to make to go ahead with strike action and this is the first time there has been a national nursing strike. Nurses will be striking about the amount they are paid and the difficult circumstances they have to work in. They have asked the government for higher wages and support. 

How long will nurses be striking for?  

Nurses were on strike at the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023.  

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have accepted the pay offer by the government and won’t be holding any more strikes.  However, some NHS staff represented by Unite did not accept the offer and therefore some strikes may still take place.  

Can Teenage Cancer Trust pay nursing unit staff a larger raise than the NHS has suggested?  

Teenage Cancer trust doesn’t fund all of the nursing staff on units. The ones that we do fund, are directly employed by the NHS and are paid on the NHS salary scheme. Because of this we can’t control the salaries of those staff we fund. 

How might this impact my care?  

There are currently not planned strikes for nurses - the information below relates to strike action that took place earlier in 2023. 

Young people with cancer are at the heart of everything we do at Teenage Cancer Trust. 

It’s important to remember that whether you’re being treated on a Teenage Cancer Trust unit or not, the safety of patients is always the most important thing. During any strikes life-preserving services will carry on.    

If you want to understand more about how the strike might affect your treatment you should speak to your care team who will be able to advise what’s happening at your local hospital. We have included some advice on how to do this below.   

We will update this page with any new information.    

Can I speak to my nurses about the strike?  

You should always be able to speak to your care team about any concerns you might have about your treatment. It’s really important throughout your cancer diagnosis and treatment to remember that you’re not alone. There is lots of support available to help you cope and you’ll meet plenty of people whose job it is to help you get through this.   

Your care team are used to explaining things a lot of times. It can be hard to take in lots of information in one go, especially when it’s complicated. Don’t feel embarrassed or worry about asking too many questions, it’s good to make sure you understand what’s going on.  

If you don’t feel confident talking to your care team about the strikes then you could try speaking to your parent or carer who might be able to support you with these conversations.  

It can often help to write things down so you don’t forget what’s been said – you can do this on a piece of paper or in the notes section of your phone if you have one.  

If I have an appointment on one of the strike days will it be cancelled?  

If you’re scheduled to go into hospital for an appointment on the day of a strike you should speak to you care team to find out if anything planned will be affected by the strike action.   

What do I do if I have a health emergency on one of the strike days?  

Emergency care carries on throughout strikes. This means you can always go to A&E if you have an emergency. You can also always call 111 if you think you need A&E but its not life-threatening. 

Where else can I go for support?   

As we’ve already said, you should always be able to speak to your care team about any concerns or questions you might have.

We have lots of information about diagnosis, types of cancer and types of treatment in our information section. We also have information on mental health. Cancer doesn’t just affect your body – it can affect your mind, thoughts and emotions and if you’re finding this time overwhelming we have some information to support you.  

There are lots of other places that you can turn to for support if you’re worried too, we’ve got lots of organisations listed on our useful contacts page.