Up to 3 million patients in England could have their surgery delayed due to impending NHS-wide nurse strikes, research has found.
A total of 2.99 million people are waiting for surgery in the dozens of hospitals across England where members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will begin going on strike next month.
Those living in the South West of England, the North West and London are most likely to have their care disrupted, according to analysis by research group Future Health. Indeed, almost all acute care hospitals in these regions will face industrial action from nurses in relation to their demand for the 15.1% pay and also because they have a large number of patients waiting for treatment. joint replacement, cataract removal or other procedure.
“These strikes will be very bad news for patients awaiting surgery on the NHS, many of whom will now have to have their surgery postponed,” said Future Health program director Richard Sloggett, who was the government’s special adviser on health during 2018-19.
In the southwest alone, 619,890 people are on the waiting list for non-emergency hospital care. However, RCN members from major hospitals there – such as those in Plymouth, Bristol, Cornwall and Dorset – were among those who voted to strike in a ballot that could potentially lead to a series of strikes. six-month shutdowns across the UK until next May. .
Similarly, 430,212 people are awaiting planned care in the North West of England where nurses at most major hospitals, such as those in Liverpool but not Manchester’s main NHS trust, plan to go on strike once the RCN will have decided when to call its members for the first time. The union is considering various options for this initial action, but one would result in nurses not working for two days in the same week, which a union official says would be a show of force for ministers.
Nurses’ strikes seem inevitable after Rishi Sunak told the MRC on Thursday that his plea for a pay rise of 5% above inflation this year was “not affordable”.
The strikes could have a particularly heavy impact on several trusts which have particularly long waiting lists, such as University Hospitals Birmingham, where more than 159,000 people are waiting for surgery, and University Hospitals Sussex and Newcastle upon Tyne NHS trusts, which more than 100,000 people are waiting for.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation hospital group, said: “NHS leaders will do all they can to mitigate the effects of any planned industrial action on their services and patients and will ensure that critical services, to Urgent and Urgent were running at a minimum. If changes are made to non-urgent care services, patients will be notified of any changes as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Saffron Cordery, acting chief executive of NHS providers, has urged Health Secretary Steve Barclay to strike a deal with health unions to avoid the disruption the strikes will cause. Ministers have offered most NHS workers in England at least £1,400 more a year, a raise worth between 4% and 5%.
She said: ‘We urgently need ministers to sit down with nurses and union leaders to find a way to prevent the strikes. No one wants to see prolonged industrial action over what threatens to be the harshest winter the NHS has ever seen. Trusted NHS leaders across the country are getting what it is for those on the front lines. The government must also obtain it.
Barclay said: “Our priority is keeping patients safe during strikes. The NHS has proven plans in place to minimize disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.
Other groups of staff are also likely to go on strike. GMB members in Scotland and Northern Ireland have already voted to do so and the ballot from Unison – which represents nurses, paramedics and non-clinical staff – is expected to result in a mandate for action.
The Royal College of Midwives has urged its 30,000 members in England and Wales to support strikes in its ballot, which has now begun.
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