England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May offers support to striking nurses

Downing Street said chief nursing officer for England Dame Ruth May was not speaking for the Government when she apparently backed striking nurses on the picket line.

Dame Ruth (pictured) joined nurses outside St Thomas’s Hospital in central London and later posted a video to Twitter saying she wants to see a resolution to the row over pay.

According to The Times, she said on the picket line she supports striking nurses – and ministers must reach an “urgent resolution” with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Asked about her appearance at the picket line, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “She doesn’t work for the Government. She’s not a minister.

“Obviously she has her own view as chief nurse. The Government must consider what is a responsible action in the round.”

In the video, Dame Ruth said: “I’m here today at St Thomas’s to thank all nurses.

“Of course, pay is a matter between the unions and the Government and I’d like to see, as nurses across the country would like to see, a resolution as soon as possible.”

In a broadcast interview posted to Twitter she said she wanted to thank all nurses, both those working inside hospitals and those on the picket line.

Asked how he feels about Dame Ruth being on the picket line, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I spoke to Ruth May ahead of today and what she was very clear on is she wanted to support all nurses.

“And I think as chief nurse that’s absolutely right that she is a hugely respected figurehead across the nursing profession.

“She wanted to signal today that she supports all nurses and I discussed that with her ahead of today.”

Dame Ruth has held roles across NHS England, NHS Improvement and Monitor, as well as in regional and NHS trust leadership roles.

She became the chief nursing officer for England in January 2019.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) NHS England.