Pat Cullen, General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Royal College of Nursing (RCN), who leads nurses in their first national strike in the union’s 106-year history Rishi Sunak’s government forced Its members go on strike.
Ms Cullen, 58, said the health secretary Steve Barclay His ministers were responsible for the abolition of thousands NHS Because of their refusal to negotiate wages, RCN asked for a 19 percent increase.
“This is a tragic day for nurses and a tragic day for patients,” she said. BBC Breakfast. “And it’s unfortunate that this government decided not to talk to us, to talk to us, to walk into a room on the first day of the strikes – that’s why we’re here today.”
About 70,000 appointments, procedures and surgeries will be missed in England due to the nursing strike, according to the government, as picket lines have been set up outside hospitals across the country.
However, RCN said it will still operate in chemotherapy, emergency cancer services, dialysis, critical care units, and neonatal and pediatric intensive care, with Christmas Day-style Rotas operations to support adults in emergency and urgent care.
Another demonstration is scheduled for December 20 and Cullen warned there was a “strong possibility” of more strikes in January unless the government changed its hard line.
She said, “We’ll be reasonable with you if you’re reasonable with us.”
Lady Cullen is the youngest of seven children – six girls and one boy – born to Paddy and Annie McAleer, farmers in Carrickmore, County Tyrone, in northern Ireland.
Talking to Watchmanshe recalled the example set by her 17-year-old older sister, Bridie, in V.I Inspiration in choosing her profession.
“I remember her coming home in her beautiful nurse’s uniform and we talked passionately as a young family about what she was doing on her last shift,” she said.
“I remember thinking, even at that young age, it was incredible how much she could impact people’s lives.”
Five of the six sisters ended up working as nurses, and the sixth had learning disabilities, another motivating factor behind Mrs. Cullen’s decision to train in it. Psychological health Nursing after taking a high school diploma.
While working at Holywell Psychiatric Hospital in Antrim in 1983, aged just 18, the future union boss was appalled by what she described to the newspaper as the “token economy system” then in operation, which punished staff for difficult patients by withdrawing their price. Possessions such as sweets, cigarettes and blankets.
“It felt very unfair,” said Mrs. Colin. “These people were sick. They had psychological issues. And some of these things that I pulled off of them were very personal. I just felt like this was such an injustice. Patients on the wards can’t cope without their personal belongings.”
She was taken to protest the hospital administration, which eventually softened her approach.
“I think I won it over; I just felt so good about it,” she said. “It felt so amazing for these patients.”
In an interview with Belfast Telegraph In 2019, she later outlined her career, recalling her rise through the ranks in Northern Ireland to become Assistant Director of Mental Health Services and Head of Occupational Nursing.
“I can honestly say that I have loved every day of working in the mental health field,” said Ms. Cullen. “I can’t imagine any other profession that would satisfy me on a professional or personal level to the same extent.
“I started working in the hospital before moving into the community, which was an amazing thing and a privilege to care for people in their own home.”
Ms Cullen, also a registered psychiatrist, was a community psychiatric nurse in Twinbrook and Poleglass during the Troubles and said “The impact of violence on mental health has been horrific”.
Now married with children, she has held other roles, including Deputy Director of Nursing, Safety, Quality and Patient Experience at the Public Health Agency of Northern Ireland (PHA) and working for the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board (HSCB).
She has also served as Executive Director of Nursing and Allied Health Professions within PHA and HSCB.
Having started working for RCN Northern Ireland in 2016, she became its Director in May 2019.
In October 2019, RCN Northern Ireland took the unprecedented step of polling members on strike action, including strikes, salary increases and reduced staffing levels.
The union said that despite intense negotiations, it was unable to obtain a move from the Ministry of Health or the Secretary of State to address issues related to wages and to begin discussions about safe employment.
About 92 percent of the members voted in favor of the strike, which took place in December 2019 and January 2020.
Ms Cullen was seen as key to mobilizing staff to counter the strike and spent considerable time visiting their workplaces and presenting the RCN case in the media.
It caused commotion and the sympathetic audience proved its part in compulsion Stormont Assembly, then suspended, to sit down and strike a deal, with RCN winning a better pay deal and introducing new legislation on safe nurse hiring levels.
Robert Sonny, a nurse who has known her for 20 years, “Pat had an amazing knack for popping into picket lines and lifting the mood with a smile or a joke.” Tell times.
Rita Devlin, who succeeded Colin as RCN’s Acting Director for Northern Ireland, added: “She has a wicked sense of humor and is a wonderful storyteller. She is very interested in people and loves to chat.”
But Devlin also described her predecessor as a “tough taskmaster” who “steers a solid ship.”
She said “She doesn’t expect anything she’s not ready to do herself and works very hard”.
Pat Cullen was appointed Acting General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of RCN in April 2021 before being given the position on an interim basis the following July.
Aside from fighting injustice on the wards, she reportedly enjoyed sitting at her sewing machine making dresses and curtains and visiting Donegal’s picturesque and tranquil east coast.
Additional reporting by agencies