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NHS Providers anticipate significant challenges as nurses plan to strike during May bank holiday

The Royal College of Nursing has rejected the pay offer proposed for nurses in England, while workers from Unison have accepted it. As a result, a walkout is planned by NHS nurses from 20:00 BST on April 30th to 20:00 on May 2nd, which will involve emergency departments, intensive care, cancer, and other wards. Sir Julian Hartley, the Chief Executive of NHS Providers representing NHS workers, warns that this strike would mark an “unprecedented level of action.” The government stated that a minority of nurses only rejected the offer, but the Royal College of Nursing announced on Friday that they had left the bid by 54% to 46%.

The pay offer was a 5% pay rise for 2023-24, along with an extra one-off lump sum of at least £1,655 to top up the past year’s salary. This announcement comes just as the NHS is recovering from a four-day walkout by junior doctors demanding a 35% pay rise, which ended at 07:00 on Saturday. During the strike by junior doctors, Sir Julian noted that consultants and other staff had filled gaps, but he warned that if nurses went ahead with their action, this might be more difficult to deal with. He stated that with nursing staff representing a significant proportion of the workforce, taking action in those areas would present unprecedented activity.

Nick Hulme, the Chief Executive of Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals, stated that recent strike action had been a “massive distraction from the work we should be doing,” including reducing waiting times, and urged all parties to find a quick solution. Speaking to Radio 4’s Today program, Mr. Hulme expressed his concern about nurses and junior doctors’ currently separate strike action. He feared that it might be coordinated at any stage. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has urged members of the GMB and Unite unions, which represent smaller numbers of NHS staff, to join Unison in accepting the government’s offer because it would be “best for patients and best for staff.”

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