Patients safety is top priority says nursing chief, ahead of NHS strike
NHS England’s nursing chief Jane Cummings has underlined the priority of patients’ safety ahead of this morning’s nationwide strike by hospital staff.
Prior to strike Cummings mentioned that she trusted NHS staff to think carefully about consequences to patients before taking action.
She said: “The safety and care of patients is our top priority and we have robust plans in place to cope. If necessary the most urgent cases will be put first and we would ask the public to help, for example, by only calling an ambulance if it is a life threatening situation.”
Over 400,000 nurses, paramedics, custodial staff and other NHS employees from six different unions are participating in the four-hour strike following the government’s refusal to provide a 1% pay increase to all NHS workers, one recommended by an independent pay review.
It is believed that while A&E departments will remain open and 999 calls will be received, certain routine operations and outpatient appointments could be affected. Doctors and dentists are not involved in the strike.
Those in “progress-in-the-jobs” roles, as well as the highest earners within the health service have received a 1% pay increase following the pay review. However, an approximated 60% of the NHS employees continue to experience pay freezes, subjecting them to further financial and emotional strain.
Christine McAnea, head of Health at Unison, has spoken in vehement support of NHS workers struggling to cope with the stresses induced by the current working climate. Christine stated: “The government in England has ignored the plight of NHS workers who are increasingly having to take on second jobs and access food banks. They’re in debt and they’re in despair.”
Responding to the participation of the Royal College of Midwives, taking strike action for the first time in its 133-year history, she added: “Everyone was shocked that the midwives are coming out – they have never done that. This shows how desperate and stressed people feel.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health earlier stated: “The government cannot afford a pay rise in addition to increments – which disproportionately reward the highest earners – without risking frontline jobs.”
While speaking to the BBC, secretary of health, Jeremy Hunt, mentioned that it would be “irresponsible” of him to accept the recommendations of the independent pay review, claiming that such increases would most likely lead to a total of 14,000 nurses losing their jobs within the next two years.