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

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have announced a second round of nursing strikes planned on 18th and 19th January 2023.  And a third round of strikes have been announced for England and Wales on 6th and 7th February 2023.

These strikes are planned for England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Not every hospital will be affected by strikes.  

There aren’t any strikes planned in Scotland currently, but we will update this page if anything changes.    

You can find out more about what this could mean for you and your treatment here. 

What is the Royal College of Nursing (RCN)? 

The RCN is a trade union for nurses. They represent nurses, student nurses, midwives and nursing support workers. They work to influence governments, improve working conditions and campaign on various issues.

There are other unions for healthcare professionals other than nurses who are still discussing whether they will strike. We will update this information once we know more.  

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? 

The RCN have announced additional strikes on, 18th and 19th January 2023 and a third round of strikes have been announced for England and Wales on 6th and 7th February 2023. We will keep this page updated with any new information.  

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? 

Young people with cancer are at the heart of everything we do at Teenage Cancer Trust, and we understand that you might be worried about what the nurses’ strike means for you and your treatment. 

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.   

The RCN have announced that chemotherapy is one of the treatments that will not be included in the strike action. However, some hospitals may still cancel appointments in order to make sure that they have enough staff to run other services. 

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 either of the dates (15th and 20th December) 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? 

The RCN have confirmed that emergency care carries on throughout strikes. This means you can always go to A&E if you have an emergency.  

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.