NHS nurses strike: Up to 60 PER CENT of ops were cancelled
Up to six in ten routine operations were cancelled at hospitals disrupted by the NHS’ biggest ever nurses’ strike, health leaders claimed today.
Next week’s walk-outs – which will see paramedics and 999 call handlers join thousands of nurses on picket lines demanding inflation-busting pay rises – will be even more devastating for the British public, experts fear.
Saffron Cordery, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the looming action will prove ‘very challenging’ for the crippled health service, which is being battered by record backlogs and winter pressures.
Ministers are under mounting pressure from their own MPs to resolve the strikes.
Up to 100,000 nurses from dozens of hospitals kick-started the NHS’s winter of discontent yesterday, braving snow and -8C temperatures. More action is planned on Tuesday.
Ambulance workers from three unions will then stage a walk-out the following day.
NEWCASTLE: Members of the RCN on the picket line outside Royal Victoria Infirmary
Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive of NHS Providers, said next week — which will see the medics on the picket lines for a second time on Wednesday, followed by paramedics on Thursday — will be ‘very challenging’ for the health service. Pictured: Ambulances parked up outside the accident and emergency department of University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff
Hospitals yesterday cancelled between 40 and 60 per cent of elective procedures, such as hip and knee ops, when up to 100,000 nurses joined the picket lines, according to Saffron Cordery (pictured), interim chief executive of NHS Providers
Ms Cordery told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It’s going to get increasingly difficult for trust leaders to manage this process because we know that the winter is always a very tricky time in the NHS and we know it’s a particularly demanding time.
‘Coming alongside an ambulance strike on the following day, I think it’s going to be a very challenging time next week.’
The nurses’ strike had a ‘significant impact’ on hospitals and patients, she said.
She added: ‘I think we do know that there were some real pressure points around emergency departments, for example, including things like the slow transfer of patients out of those departments.
‘In terms of things like routine operations, so far we’ve heard that probably between around 40 to 60 per cent of those routine operations have been cancelled in places where the strikes were held.
‘So it’s fair to say that there’s been a relatively significant impact and I think it was a very demanding day overall, on the front line in the NHS.’
A total of 44 trusts across England, Wales and Northern Ireland yesterday ran a ‘Christmas Day service’.
Cancer patients were among those denied care after the Royal College of Nursing called the first national strike in its 106-year history.
The row is over pay and working conditions, with the RCN demanding a pay rise 5 per cent above RPI inflation — equivalent to a 19 per cent boost.
However, it has indicated it would accept a lower offer.
The Government has so far refused to negotiate on salaries, sticking with its offer of around 4 per cent, or £1,400, which is backed by its independent NHS Pay Review Body.
But the union says the system, which was set up under Margaret Thatcher, is ‘out of date’ and ‘does not work for nurses’.
Yesterday marked the first day of industrial action among the nurses, with a second set for December 20.
The union is also expected to announce more dates for January, unless an agreement is reached with Government. That action could cause even more disruption for patients.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay stood by the decision to award nurses a 4 per cent rise.
But Steve Brine, the Conservative chairman of the Commons health and social care committee, and Sir Jake Berry, the former chairman of the Conservative Party, called on ministers to reconsider their position in a bid to avert further chaos.
Mr Brine said it would be a good idea to ask the independent panel to review its advice, which was given before inflation surged amid the war in Ukraine.
The Royal College of Nursing has pledged industrial action on December 15 and 20
This map shows the hospitals where the Royal College of Nursing will hold its first strikes over pay on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December
This graph shows the Royal College of Nursing’s demands for a 5 per cent above inflation pay rise for the bands covered by its membership which includes healthcare assistants and nurses. Estimates are based on NHS Employers data
The latest NHS data recorded that about 45,000 nursing posts in England are vacant as of the end of June. London has highest percentage missing, with 15 per cent of nursing posts unfilled
NHS data shows efforts to get more nurses into the health service are only barely keeping pace with the number of experienced nurses quitting
‘Everyone needs to cool it and I think sending it back to the pay review body to have a look would be a sensible answer,’ he told the BBC’s World At One Programme.
He suggested this would be a way for the RCN to step back from its second day of strikes.
Sir Jake said the Government is ‘going to have to improve its offer’.
He told Talk TV: ‘We need to find a way as a Government, and the union does too, to get to that centre point, that point of agreement straight away.’
But Mr Barclay appeared to rule out any movement during a visit to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
Pressed on whether he is willing to discuss pay with the RCN, he said: ‘We’ve been clear that we have an independent process and that is the process we followed.’
The RCN staffed chemotherapy, emergency cancer services, dialysis, critical care units, neonatal and paediatric intensive care.
Some areas of mental health and learning disability and autism services were also exempt, while trusts were told they could request staffing for specific clinical needs.
In adult A&E and urgent care, nurses worked Christmas Day-style rotas.
Nurses braving the cold on picket lines yesterday said they had no choice but to go on strike.
Yoga Sundaram, 28, who works at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, said: ‘Most of us are having to work an extra shift on top of our basic 37.5 hours a week, just to pay the bills.
‘That extra money does not go towards savings or holidays, it’s just to keep our heads above the surface.’
Occupational health nurse Shan Robinson, 53, of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge – where 2,000 appointments were abandoned due to the walkout – said: ‘We don’t really have much option other than going on strike.
‘We are understaffed because we are losing so many nurses and one of the reasons is low pay.’
The ambulance strike will affect emergency services across England and Wales on two days
Armed forces could be brought in to drive ambulances and take on hospital roles amid fears thousands of NHS staff could strike this winter
It comes as health chiefs fear that strikes by ambulance workers will be the biggest threat to patients out of all winter walk-outs. They warned of ‘blanket’ guidance that could see all planned procedures cancelled.
There are fears the elderly people who fall will not receive help and that heart attack stroke patients will only get treatment if it is ‘time-critical’ when paramedics walk out on December 21 and 28.
Emergency Cobra planning in Whitehall has reportedly been stalled after concerns that unions were turning down assistance from the Army to fill-in for striking ambulance staff, the Sun reported.
A source told the paper that unions were keeping NHS trusts are ‘flying blind’ and ‘in the dark’ by not revealing how many of their members will be striking.
They said that this frustrated efforts to minimise the impact of walkouts on patients.
Ambulance workers rejected a pay rise of 4 per cent which was offered by the Government, as it it was well below rates of soaring inflation making it a real terms pay cut.
Only one trust in England has negotiated a minimum level of service during strike days.
The South East Coast Ambulance Service agreed a deal that all category one calls – which are immediately life-threatening emergencies – will be answered even if staff have to stop striking temporarily.
But the ambulance service added: ‘Anyone not facing a life-threatening emergency is likely to wait longer for a response or be directed to alternative care.’
Sir Jim Mackey, NHS England’s director of elective recovery, said: ‘The ambulance strike is a completely different order of magnitude of risk.’
He told think-tank the King’s Fund: ‘If we were to give guidance today, the only guidance we could give would be to cancel absolutely everything.
‘I think we’ll just have to take it day by day… if, at some point, there is a case for a blanket order, we’ll consider that.’
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘As strike action escalates, the risk to patient harm increases. We can’t allow that to happen.
‘The commitment to protecting life and limb is going to become increasingly difficult to manage given the challenges we face and if this drags on or deepens.’
He called for a ‘resolution to this situation’ warning that ‘even with out best laid plans, there will be increased risk to patients’.
In other related news…
From relying on food banks just to eat and being too busy to care for patients left in their own faeces: Nurses on the picket lines reveal exactly why they’re striking
The Bob Marley-loving ‘taskmaster’ organising NHS’s biggest ever walk-out: Pat Cullen grew up in Northern Ireland during the troubles and has five nursing sisters
What is the truth about NHS nursing crisis? Fascinating graphs show how crippled sector’s pay has stagnated over past decade
Never off duty! Striking NHS nurses ditch -8C picket line to give first aid to man who collapsed outside hospital
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-11545277/Up-60-CENT-ops-cancelled-NHS-strikes.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 NHS nurses strike: Up to 60 PER CENT of ops were cancelled