Nurses strikes force THOUSANDS of operations to be cancelled with union warning of 'sharp increase' in walk outs NEXT MONTH

Strikes: Thousands of nurses in England have started their two day strike over pay
Strikes: Thousands of nurses in England have started their two day strike over pay

Thousands of operations and appointments cancelled as nurses begin two days of striking

Published

Nurses from 55 NHS trusts in England are taking part in two days of strikes in a bitter row over pay as thousands of patients have their operations cancelled.

Almost 30,000 operations and appoints needed to be rescheduled after they were cancelled following the last nurses strike in December.

NHS data shows that 4,567 operations and 25,009 outpatient appointments were cancelled on December 15 and 20 last year.

In total, 7.2 million people in England, including 400,000 people who have already been waiting a year, are on waiting lists for operations.

Thousands of operations and appointments have been cancelled due to strike action
Thousands of operations and appointments have been cancelled due to strike action

Nurses are staging stoppages for 13 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 7.30am until 8.30pm.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced two more, bigger strikes which will be held next month while the GMB union is expected to declare further ambulance worker strikes.

Government minister Robert Jenrick said public sector workers couldn’t receive “significant” pay rises because inflation is only starting to ease, according to new figures released on Wednesday.

New government statistics showed that inflation has fallen to 10.5 per cent from 10.7 per cent last month.

The RCN has demanded a rise of five per cent above inflation but has said they will compromise if health secretary Steve Barclay can negotiate a deal.

Pat Cullen, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said nurses felt “totally heartbroken” going on strike, but felt they had no choice.

She said: “Today’s strike action by nursing staff is a modest escalation before a sharp increase in under three weeks from now. If a week is a long time for Rishi Sunak, three weeks is the time he needs to get this resolved.

“People aren’t dying because nurses are striking. Nurses are striking because people are dying. That is how severe things are in the NHS and it is time the prime minister led a fight for its future.”

The RCN warn that further, bigger strikes will be held next month if a deal isn't reached
The RCN warn that further, bigger strikes will be held next month if a deal isn't reached

Union bosses have warned that staff will strike again on February 6 and 7 which will include 73 trusts in England and also Wales, if Barclay doesn’t start talking.

Writing in the Independent, Mr Barclay said that, while he recognises the cost-of-living pressures on NHS staff, “unaffordable pay rises” will stoke inflation.

He said: “If we provide unaffordable pay rises to NHS staff, we will take billions of pounds away from where we need it most. Unaffordable pay hikes will mean cutting patient care and stoking the inflation that would make us all poorer.”

The Health Secretary insisted there is “much common ground” between both sides of the dispute, stating that ministers “want to work with union leaders to improve the NHS and deliver better care” and that a “fair way” to a resolution can be found.