NHS Providers anticipates that the May holiday will be significantly more challenging due to the nurses’ strikes.

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Previous strikes by nurses from the RCN had an exemption allowing for cover in critical care areas of hospitals. Image: REUTERS

Emergency treatment would be affected by a 48-hour nursing strike, which would “present serious risks and challenges,” according to an NHS official.

The pay offer for England has been rejected by the Royal College of Nursing, while Unison workers have accepted it.

Sir Julian Hartley, representing NHS workers through NHS Providers, stated that the planned strike on the May bank holiday would be an “unprecedented level of action”.

The government responded, stating that the offer was based on the vote from the minority of nurses. The proposed pay rise on the table was 5% for 2023-24, along with a one-off lump sum of at least £1,655 to supplement the past year’s salary.

The planned walkout, scheduled from 20:00 BST on 30 April to 20:00 on 2 May, will involve nurses in emergency departments, intensive care, cancer, and other wards within the NHS.

This decision follows the announcement by the Royal College of Nursing on Friday, stating that they had rejected the offer with a 54% to 46% majority.

This development arises just as the NHS is recovering from a four-day strike by junior doctors, who are demanding a 35% pay rise, which ended at 07:00 on Saturday.

During the strike by junior doctors, Sir Julian, the chief executive of NHS Providers, noted that gaps were filled by consultants and other staff.

However, he expressed concerns that if nursing staff also went on strike, it would pose unprecedented challenges for managing and mitigating the impact of such widespread action.

Nick Hulme, the chief executive of Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals, further highlighted that recent strikes had been a distraction from the essential work of reducing waiting times, and he urged all parties to find a swift resolution.

Mr. Hulme expressed anxiety about the potential coordination of strike action by nurses and junior doctors, considering it as something difficult to comprehend.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt called upon members of the GMB and Unite unions, which represent smaller numbers of NHS staff, to join Unison in accepting the government’s offer. He emphasized that accepting the offer would be in the best interest of patients and staff alike.

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