There are, of course, strikes and strikes. When nurses strike, we have sympathy for them because what they do matters, and they are generally in the job for the right reasons.

But if I were to give just a small amount of advice, I would straighten my message out.

In looking to try and get the public on side, don't tell me about how tired you are, and how the hours kill you, and how you're emotionally wrung out at the end of the day. And these are the messages I am seeing in this current campaign. Although I am sure all of that is true, it doesn't have anything to do with what you earn. Or it shouldn't.

There is certain work you do because you are drawn to it, and pay is separate to it. I have done this job in various forms for 36 years and I have earned comparatively nothing and comparatively quite a lot. But the enjoyment factor has always remained separate to the wage packet.


So if it's workload you're worried about, then taking or rejecting 2% isn't going to change that. But that 2% is the real issue. This 2% - is it an ordinary offer? You bet it is. But, and here's the problem with heavily unionised jobs, they never deliver the returns a lot of those in the union actually deserve. And they never deliver them because they can't.

By the very nature of mass unionism you are destined for the smallest of pay rises and the constant upheaval of stop work meetings and industrial action. When you're offering 27,000 people a pay rise, that's a lot of money, even if it's 2%.

And let's be honest, not everyone deserves 2%. I bet there are nurses that deserve 20%. Why? Because they're brilliant, because they go the extra mile, they're angels and life savers and guardians of care and hope and support at the darkest of times. Would you pay that person more? Of course you would.

But in the group of 27,000 that individual brilliance is lost in the crowd and it's the crowd the unions represent. The union view is, all for one and one for all, which is a fine sentiment until it comes to pay day. And on pay day, the offer is always small because you're multiplying it out not by the handful, but by the thousand. Not by the individual brilliance or skill, but by the large collective. And so the nurses will strike.

Will they get a better deal by a strike? Probably. Will it be what they want? No. Never is. What it will be is a half-way, half-baked, half-ordinary sort of compromise. Because that's how these things always play out: one side gets exhausted and blinks first.

The unions will feel emboldened these days because the party on which they pull the strings of influence is in government. So we will see more and more of this sort of thing.

But as much support as I may have for nurses - and I do - if they insist in remaining in an age-old industrial mechanism, it is a lifetime of 2 and 3% rises, of votes and stop-works and strikes, and of ultimately of not feeling like you are getting what you deserve.

Who, in a profession as important as health care, deserves that?