The Government has literally left us out in the cold, says striking nurse

Matt Tacey is to strike on January 18 as a last resort because the Government has failed to enter any meaningful negotiations with nursing unions.

Danielle Desouza
Wednesday 18 January 2023 00:01 GMT
Matt Tacey has said that he feels ‘disappointed’ about having to strike (Matt Tacey)
Matt Tacey has said that he feels ‘disappointed’ about having to strike (Matt Tacey)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

A nurse who has had to borrow money from his parents to get by each month has said that he is “disappointed” to be striking, but the “Government has literally left us out in the cold”.

Nurses across different hospital trusts are to go on strike on January 18 and 19 in England as talks about pay and conditions with the Government have failed, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Matt Tacey, 32, who lives in the East Midlands, told the PA news agency that he did not want to strike on Wednesday, but he, as well as fellow colleagues, have been “forced” into the position because “the Government just won’t enter any meaningful negotiations with us as a union”.

“You won’t find one single nurse that wants to be outside hospitals or places of work”, he added.

“We are disappointed to be striking because it goes against the fundamental aspect of being a nurse – providing care – and we want to be able to provide care, we want to improve lives.

“To stand outside hospitals and not provide care goes against every grain in our DNA and it’s going to be around three to four degrees tomorrow, so the Government has literally left us out in the cold.”

Mr Tacey said that the Government should have stepped in to help the NHS years prior.

“This [situation] has been predicted for the last 15 to 20 years”, he said.

“We’ve seen the trajectory of the NHS, we’ve seen that the population of the country is ageing, but it seems that the Government has completely ignored that.

“All of a sudden it’s like, ‘oh God, we’re in a really difficult position now,’ but we’ve been saying we have been under significant pressure for the last 15 years, something needs to change.”

One of the key reasons behind Mr Tacey’s decision to strike is to advocate for patient safety.

“It needs to improve”, he said.

“We just need the Government and the Health Secretary to understand the significance of the situation and do something.

“During Covid, a lot of the ministers stood out on doorsteps, clapping for us and calling us heroes, but look how quickly they have forgotten about that two/three years later.”

Mr Tacey also spoke about the constant reference to the NHS being at “breaking point”.

We are failing, but it's not because of staff incompetence or because we don't care, it is because this Government has underfunded and cut resources to a dangerously low level, which has resulted in significant staff vacancies

Matt Tacey

“The phrase ‘the NHS is at breaking point’ is often used and I disagree with that statement”, he said.

“The NHS isn’t at breaking point, the NHS is broken.

“We’re looking at significant wait times, significantly understaffed wards which results in staff feeling burnt out and overwhelmed and this has been widely published in a negative way to portray the NHS as a failing system.

“We are failing, but it’s not because of staff incompetence or because we don’t care, it is because this Government has underfunded and cut resources to a dangerously low level, which has resulted in significant staff vacancies.”

Mr Tacey comes from a nursing family, with his mother, father and grandmother having worked as nurses, and his wife Nicole currently working as one.

“I get really passionate about this because I feel as though I’m fighting for the nurses who have previously had to deal with a lot of these shortages and under-resourcing”, he said.

“I’m also fighting for the current nurses that are facing significant struggles day in and day out, the inability to sometimes get to work because they cannot afford to put fuel in their car.

“I’m also fighting for the future generation of nurses because currently, applying for a job in the NHS is not attractive and it feels like we are all fighting a losing battle.”

Mr Tacey added that he is a team manager, so he is aware of the struggles his colleagues face, who regularly speak to him about their situations and have to pick up extra shifts “just to get by”.

He added: “My wife and I often have to borrow money from parents just to see us through to the end of the month because current salaries are not covering the basic bills.

“We live in one of the richest countries in the world and yet people can’t afford heating, they can’t afford to put food on the table … it’s a national disgrace.”

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