As the largest NHS walkout in history begins, a nursing union leader is pleading with the prime minister to step in.
Patricia Marquis, director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, told Sky News that despite four strike days, Rishi Sunak has not yet been in “direct communication.”
She said:”It’s a cry out to Rishi Sunak to come to the table to seek a resolution.
“So far we’ve not had direct contact with him, all of our efforts have been through the secretary of state for health.
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“And those have not really brought us any solutions.
“So really, now, we don’t want the strikes to go ahead… and we’re really calling on the prime minister to intervene, to come to the table and seek a resolution with us.”
Tens of thousands of NHS employees, including nurses in England and ambulance workers from the GMB union in England and Wales, are participating in strike action today (Monday, February 6) in a wage and conditions dispute.
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Tuesday will see a second day of nursing strikes.
More than 4,000 NHS physiotherapists in England will strike on Thursday.
Further ambulance worker strikes are scheduled for Friday, this time involving Unison members in London, Yorkshire, the South West, the North East, and the North West.
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It has led NHS Providers, which represents trusts, to warn that the entire emergency service is nearing a “crunch point” and to advise the public to use emergency services “wisely.”
Carmel O’Boyle has worked for the NHS for about 20 years and has been a nurse for six years in Scotland and Liverpool.
She talks about how “horrendous” and “emotional” it was to decide to strike.
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She said: “No nurse wants to strike but the wages just aren’t compatible with the cost of living”.
“We need a wage increase that is in line with inflation so that we can attract people, and keep people in the profession so that we can give the care to our patients that we want to deliver.”
The strikes, according to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, will “undoubtedly have an impact on patients and cause delays to NHS services.”
He called the industrial action “regrettable.”
READ MORE: HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF NHS NURSES TO GO ON STRIKE
Carmel, though, argues that the government must realise that “nurses are striking because people are dying, not because people are dying because nurses are striking.”
The effect that the strikes will have on the NHS’s backlog of cases and waiting lists has also been a source of concern.
In a statement from the government, Mr. Barclay said: “Despite contingency measures in place, strikes by ambulance and nursing unions this week will inevitably cause further delays for patients who already face longer waits due to the COVID backlogs.
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“We prioritised £250m of support last month for extra capacity in urgent and emergency care, but strikes this week will only increase the disruption faced by patients.”
He added: “I have held constructive talks with the trade unions on pay and affordability and continue to urge them to call off the strikes. It is time for the trade unions to look forward and engage in a constructive dialogue about the Pay Review Body Process for the coming year.”
Source: Sky News
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