Nurses announced that they will be striking for the first time ever earlier this month, with two dates announced for December.
Meanwhile, the cost of living crisis continues to bite, inflation has reached double digits, and winter means the NHS is likely to face extra pressure even as it continues to grapple with the Covid backlog.
Speaking on Question Time which was broadcasting live from Skipton, a nurse explained it was crucial to improve the entire sector.
She said: “Fund us properly, make nursing, and health and social care generally, a good profession that is well-paid, with good working conditions.
“We want to be proud of our profession. I’ve just voted to strike, and that was hard. that was a really difficult decision.”
The member of public also hit out at the negative rhetoric coming from critics, including the government, over all striking workers.
She said: ″Language like ‘holding the country to ransom’ and things – I don’t want to strike, but we’ve been waiting for jam tomorrow for decades now and it hasn’t come.”
Transport minister Richard Holden who was the Question Time panel then jumped in: ”We have a population that is ageing – 44% of public spending is going to the NHS, more than ever before, more per head, even in real terms, than ever before.
“Trying to match that need is really difficult, which is why social care reform –”
He was then interrupted by host Fiona Bruce, who got the conversation back to the nurse.
She said: ″I think the point you were trying to make is that you feel insulted by it, the suggestion that you’re holding the country to ransom.”
“I don’t want to strike!” The nurse replied. “But we need more money. All nurses, care workers, doctors, we need to be able to lead reasonable lives without having to strike, so pay us please what we deserve.”
The room erupted into applause.
Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, also defended all of the industries striking during the programme.
Speaking from the panel, he said: “Don’t blame people who are fighting for their family income. At this difficult time, we’re going into a winter where people are going to be at more risk, we’re going to have people using candles to keep warm – or not using candles and going into hospital.
“If the government let nurses, paramedics, firefighters go out on strike, that is going to be a serious risk to us all.
“So I would say they deserve a fair pay rise.”