Nurses strike continues: Major disruption for NHS services in England during 28-hour walk-out over pay
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NHS services across England will see major disruption today (May 1) as nurses started a 28-hour strike over pay yesterday evening, ending just before midnight today. Originally planned to last into Tuesday, the walkouts will end early after a High Court judge ruled continuing the strikes beyond Monday unlawful.
This is also the first time since the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) strikes began that chemotherapy and intensive care and dialysis units will also be affected. The strikes are taking place at around half of all NHS trusts in England.
The NHS workers strike coincides with members of the Unite union at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust as well as the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the RCN said. The strikes have raised concerns about patient safety, but the union general secretary Pat Cullen said on Sunday that measures are in place to keep patients safe.
The union originally said it would not agree to any derogations, but changed their mind on Friday when some exemptions were announced in some areas of care where staffing will be guaranteed despite strike action. One organisation where nurses have agreed to derogations is Greater Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), after it voiced “serious concerns” over patient safety.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay commented on the 28-hour strikes, saying: “I think this strike is premature and is disrespectful to those trade unions that will be meeting on Tuesday.”
It comes ahead of the NHS Staff Council meeting made up of government representatives, unions and employers, which will discuss the government’s 5 percent pay offer.
During the strikes, NHS England asked those who need non-urgent care to contact 111 or visit pharmacies in order to save NHS resources. Dame Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “We are grateful to the RCN for agreeing a process of safety critical mitigations and we continue to support all nurses, those who work and those who take industrial action.
“These mitigations do not represent a return to standard staffing. The industrial action will still have a very significant impact on services during the strike period and patients can expect to see longer waits for care.
“The public should use the NHS wisely, with those needing non-urgent care using pharmacies and 111 online as their first port of call. And if you have a life-threatening emergency, please seek help in the usual way by dialling 999.”