A & E will be in ‘precarious position’

Urgent and emergency care in ‘precarious position’ unless exemptions made to nursing strikes: NHS leaders fear they will not be able to guarantee safe care for their patients in emergency and life-critical situations unless exemptions are brought in by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to allow nurses to work on hospital wards during the upcoming strikes.

The Royal College of Nursing intends to hold more strikes for its members across half of the NHS trusts in England and, subject to the outcome of the legal action that is being taken forward by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the next strike will start from 8pm on Sunday 30 April and run until 8pm on Tuesday 2 May.

Unlike previous nurse strikes and similar to the recent junior doctors’ walk-outs, this round of industrial action will include no national or localised ‘derogations’, meaning that all members of the RCN in England, including registered nurses, midwives, students and nursing support workers, will be expected not to turn up to work in the 125 trusts and systems with a mandate to strike. As a result, not even ‘life and limb’ cover will be provided.

While NHS leaders understand why the RCN is staging further industrial action and respect the rights of their staff to go on strike, they have told the NHS Confederation that this is a significant escalation where patient care could be compromised.

The NHS Confederation is urging the RCN to reconsider its escalation for the sake of patients in the immediate term and to reinstate all the national derogations that it had in place up until this point, particularly in emergency and critical care.

Bank holidays are already a busy time for urgent and emergency services and so the absence of nurses to fill vital shifts will almost certainly place patients at risk.

It also means that elective and other planned care will have to be scaled back even more than it usually would have been over a public holiday and the days surrounding them.

The past six months of industrial action has seen over half a million operations and appointments postponed.

Previous walk-outs by nursing staff saw exemptions put in place in areas where timely treatment of patients is vital, including in A&E, intensive care, mental health and cancer services.

Already, the NHS Confederation has called for the mental health derogations to be reinstated but these alone will not be enough to protect patient safety across local services.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

“While NHS leaders understand why the RCN is intensifying its stance on industrial action, they fear the absence of any exemptions to its planned strikes will put patient care in a precarious position. This is particularly the case for patients who will need emergency and intensive care.

NHS leaders are worried that this action could lead to hospital wards becoming overwhelmed during the strike days and could even put some people off from seeking the care they need.

“We are calling on the RCN to reinstate these vital derogations without delay.”

Hippocratic Post

More in this category

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x