NHS nurses announces TWO more strike dates in January… but ambulance union CANCELS next week’s walk-out because of ‘incredible British public support’
- The Royal College of Nursing will stage more walk-outs on January 18 and 19
- Almost 30k operations and appointments were cancelled because of its strikes
- Meanwhile, next week’s ambulance walk-outs by GMB have been cancelled
Nurses will strike again in the New Year, with chaos planned on back-to-back days.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will stage more walk-outs on January 18 and 19. Even more dates will be confirmed next month.
Almost 30,000 operations and appointments were cancelled because of its strikes on December 15 and 20, which were the biggest in NHS history.
Meanwhile, next week’s ambulance walk-outs have been cancelled.
Striking nurses at Leeds General Hospital mocked Health Secretary Steve Barclay with a jokey rendition of Santa Clause Is Coming To Town while on the picket line on December 20
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) General Secretary Pat Cullen, centre, joined members of the RCN on the picket line outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle on December 20
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Who is Pat Cullen? The ‘taskmaster’ organising NHS’s biggest walkout
Royal College of Nursing boss Pat Cullen
Thousands of paramedics and ambulance staff represented by GMB were preparing to strike again on December 28.
But the union — one of three to take part in December 20’s action, the biggest 999 walk-out in 30 years — claimed it had U-turned because it was ‘overwhelmed’ by the ‘incredible British public’.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary said: ‘People across the country have been wonderful in backing us and we care so much about them too. We know the public will appreciate being able to enjoy Christmas without any additional anxiety. They support us and we support them.’
Meanwhile, Unison has confirmed plans for even more disruption in January with two bigger ambulance walk-outs.
Members in five services in England will strike on January 11 and 23. The action will involve all employees — not just 999 crews, as was the case on Wednesday.
Unite, the other union behind this week’s chaotic ambulance walk-outs, confirmed staff in Wales will strike in January, too.
Unions want inflation-busting pay rises, with the RCN demanding 19 per cent.
Its boss has, however, said she will compromise if ministers were willing to negotiate.
But the Government has refused to stump up any extra cash, sticking to its original offer of around 4 per cent.
Members of the RCN on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital on December 20
Some 4,560 inpatient procedures were rescheduled because of the RCN action over the two days. This includes routine procedures like hip and knee replacements, which require an overnight stay in hospital. Another 25,000 outpatient appointments were postponed across England because of the walk-outs last Thursday and yesterday. This usually includes appointments, X-rays and minor procedures. Most of the chaos was caused at Nottingham University Hospitals (2,413), followed by Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Hospitals (2,313). Map shows total for both inpatient and outpatient appointments cancelled
What is the truth about the nursing crisis?
NHS nurses: A workforce where women outnumber men by a significant margin and a significant number are approaching retirement or seeking a better work-life balance. Pay is the central issue at the heart of the strikes, with the average nurse earing £37,000. This estimate includes both new graduates, who start on £27,055, and very senior nurses who earn more
Health Secretary Steve Barclay is considering fast-tracking next year’s NHS pay rise in a bid to resolve the dispute. He has already hinted that staff can ‘look forward’ to next year’s review.
RCN chief executive Pat Cullen said: ‘The Government had the opportunity to end this dispute before Christmas but instead they have chosen to push nursing staff out into the cold again in January.
‘I do not wish to prolong this dispute, but the Prime Minister has left us with no choice.’
Ms Cullen, who joined picket lines last week, added: ‘The public support has been heart-warming.
‘And I am more convinced than ever that this is the right thing to do for patients and the future of the NHS.
‘The voice of nursing will not be ignored. Staff shortages and low pay make patient care unsafe – the sooner ministers come to the negotiating table, the sooner this can be resolved. I will not dig in, if they don’t dig in.’
Dozens of hospitals took part in last week’s RCN strikes, which saw a bank holiday-style service ran in many wards across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Cancer patients were among those denied care in the RCN’s first national strike in its 106-year history.
Some services, including chemotherapy and dialysis, were exempt.
January’s strikes are only planned for England at the moment — but the union hinted that action is looming for the rest of the UK.
Some 9,999 staff were absent from work due to the walk-outs on December 15. Another 11,509 were recorded for December 20. Most disruption was logged in the South West, with 4,748 staff taking part over the two days
Ambulance workers on the picket line in London on December 21, in an ongoing dispute over pay
Nearly 70,000 patients were whizzed to hospitals by 999 crews last week. But more than 28,000 — or 40 per cent — faced delays of at least 30 minutes before being passed to casualty teams
Action could rumble on for six months, unless the two sides come to an agreement.
It comes as the NHS is braced for its ‘darkest’ ever Christmas as it battles a flu surge, a bed-blocking crisis and the aftermath of strikes.
Health leaders warn the service is going into the weekend with an unsafe number of patients on wards, skeleton staffing levels and is ‘dangerously close to overheating completely’.
The public was last night urged not to socialise with friends and relatives if unwell over the festive period to avoid passing on infections and overwhelming the NHS.
Ambulance handover delays at A&E are the worst on record, leaving crews unable to respond to new 999 calls for hours at a time.
And enquiries to NHS 111 are approaching an all-time-high, with worried parents seeking advice on the Strep A outbreak raging through schools.
Saffron Cordery, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: ‘Trust leaders are expecting this Christmas to be one of their darkest to date.’
There are fears that patients who delayed seeking care when nurses and ambulance staff picketed this week will now scramble to be seen.
However, there are likely to be fewer staff available to deal with the influx as hospitals operate stripped back weekend and Christmas Day rotas.
In other related news…
How bad are ambulance delays at YOUR hospital? Use our interactive tool to find out… as data reveals 85% of paramedic crews face 30minute waits outside busiest A&Es
Prepare for MORE ambulance chaos! Unison announces two more strike dates in January as another union plots walk-out in Wales
Don’t give granny flu at Christmas: Festive revellers are urged not to mix with vulnerable relatives if they are ill to avoid overloading struggling NHS
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