Health Secretary Steve Barclay ‘plans to pursue legal action’ over Royal College of Nursing’s upcoming strike

The Royal College of Nursing planned to strike from April 30 to May 2 - but that may be in doubt after Steve Barclay plans to pursue legal action

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Health Secretary Steve Barclay has said he plans to “pursue legal action” to stop the Royal College of Nursing’s upcoming strike action. This comes just a day after healthcare leaders wrote to the Royal College of Nursing suggesting its plans to extend strikes to midnight on May 2 are ‘unlawful’.

NHS Employers, who represent every hospital across the nation, has said that the RCN must legally end its strike on May 1. The organisation continued to say that to hold strikes beyond this date there need to be a new ballot of members.

In a statement, Mr Barclay said: "Following a request from NHS Employers, I have regretfully provided notice of my intent to pursue legal action to ask the courts to declare the Royal College of Nursing’s upcoming strike action planned for April 30 to May 2 to be unlawful.

"The government firmly believes in the right to strike, but it is vital that any industrial action is lawful and I have no choice but to take action."

Pat Cullen, the RCN general secretary and chief executive, branded the movie "nakedly political". In a statement, she said: "Nurses will not be gagged in this way by a bullying government. We are clear that court arguments should only relate to May 2 and not April 30 and May 1. The government is now desperate to silence nurses rather than address this properly. We want to be in the negotiating room, not the courtroom."