York Hospital nurses are taking part in strike action for the first time in the current pay dispute today (Wednesday, 18 January).
They are joining thousands of their colleagues across England who are walking out today and tomorrow, between 7am and 8pm.
They are members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). It has announced that two further, bigger strikes will be held next month, while the GMB union is expected to announce further ambulance worker strike dates tomorrow.
In a statement, York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the strike would inevitably “impact on services”.
The trust said: “During strike action, urgent and emergency treatment will be our priority.
“We are working closely with union representatives to ensure plans are in place to maintain safe care for patients, while facilitating and respecting the right of those staff who wish to take legal industrial action.
“If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned. We will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action.
“We will be rearranging any postponed appointments as a priority. We appreciate this situation is frustrating for patients affected and apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Patients who need urgent medical care should still come forward “especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk”.
“On days where there is strike action, patients should only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency (when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk).
Where the situation is not life-threatening, alternative support will be available through NHS111 online or through calling NHS 111.
RCN chief executive, Pat Cullen, said: “Today’s strike action by nursing staff is a modest escalation before a sharp increase in under three weeks from now.
“If a week is a long time for Rishi Sunak, three weeks is the time he needs to get this resolved.
“People aren’t dying because nurses are striking. Nurses are striking because people are dying.”
The RCN has been calling for a pay rise at 5% above inflation, though it has said it will accept a lower offer.
Inflation was running at 7.5% when it submitted the 5% figure to the independent pay review body last March.
But inflation has since soared, with RPI standing at 14% in November.
The Health Secretary has warned “unaffordable” wage rises “will mean cutting patient care”.
Writing in the Independent, Steve Barclay said: “If we provide unaffordable pay rises to NHS staff, we will take billions of pounds away from where we need it most. Unaffordable pay hikes will mean cutting patient care and stoking the inflation that would make us all poorer.”