140,000 cancelled operations and appointments: Staggering collateral damage of NHS strikes so far – so how badly have nurse and 999 crew walk-outs hit YOUR hospital?
- Some 49,038 operations and appointments were rescheduled this week alone
- Health chiefs warn strikes threaten ‘major long-term damage to the NHS’
- Polling shows majority of the public are still in favour of strike action by nurses
Almost 140,000 ops and appointments have been cancelled because of NHS strikes this winter.
Hospitals and patients have already endured over a dozen walk-outs since the chaos began at the start of December.
That toll includes the biggest ever strike to rock the ailing health service on February 6, involving tens of thousands of nurses and paramedics.
Nurses continued their protests for better pay the next day as part of a 48-hour row.
Meanwhile, physiotherapists took to the picket lines today. And ambulance staff will strike again tomorrow, rounding off the busiest week of NHS walk-outs so far.
Almost 140,000 ops and appointments have been cancelled because of NHS strikes this winter. That toll includes the biggest ever strike to rock the ailing health service on February 6, involving tens of thousands of nurses and paramedics
NHS nurses from the Royal College of Nursing form a picket line as they strike for safe staffing levels, fair pay and working conditions outside St Thomas Hospital, London on February 6
Some 49,038 operations and appointments in total were rescheduled, following strike action on Monday and Tuesday. Pictured above, RCN members on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London on February 6
Startling NHS figures laying bare the knock-on effects of the action so far have revealed that more than a third of all operations cancelled occurred on Monday and Tuesday alone.
Read more: Are UK nurses paid more than those in Europe? And how much extra do they want? All you need to know about the never-ending NHS salary row as week of walkouts begins
Some 49,038 operations and appointments in total were rescheduled across the two days.
Of this, 7,303 were inpatient and day case elective procedures — which can include routine procedures like hip and knee replacements, which require an overnight stay in hospital.
The majority (34,122) were outpatient appointments. This usually involves X-rays and minor procedures.
The rest of the cancellations were for community services appointments and mental health and learning disability appointments, NHS England said.
However, the true disruption from this week’s NHS strikes will be higher than 49,000 because not every location taking part logged data.
And it doesn’t take into account today’s strike by members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, or tomorrow’s by ambulance workers.
It only looks at Monday and Tuesday, organised by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), GMB and Unite.
Unions have warned that action will continue ‘for as long as it takes’, until the Government ‘does the decent thing’.
But ministers claimed patients’ lives would be put at risk due to delayed care and slower ambulance response times.
Earlier this week, health leaders warned of ‘significant disruption’ due to the scale of the action on February 6, in particular.
It was predicted up to 40,000 nurses, paramedics and emergency call handlers would walk out together.
But just 16,000 workers were actually absent from work because of strike action, NHS England data shows.
Most disruption was logged in the North East and Yorkshire, where 5,739 workers were reported as absent across the two days.
Even more NHS strikes are on the way this week, with another round of industrial action penciled in for ambulance workers tomorrow
This week’s disruption has been organised by the unions the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), GMB, Unison and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. It is the busiest week of NHS walk-outs so far
Many hospital services were exempt from strike action, including chemotherapy, emergency cancer services, dialysis, critical care units, neonatal and paediatric intensive care.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London recorded the largest level of disruption, the same data revealed.
Some 3,386 inpatient and outpatient appointments were re-scheduled across the two days.
It was followed by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (2,546) and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (2,251).
Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust has been hit hardest by the disruption, with 6,152 appointments and operations postponed since NHS strikes began in December.
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, meanwhile has seen 5,114 appointments or operations rescheduled.
Despite the postponed appointments, recent polling showed that the majority of the public were in favour of strike action by nurses.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers said: ‘There are no winners in this situation.
‘Patients are being hit hard, trusts can’t deliver the care they want, and staff feel they have no choice but to join the picket lines.
‘We cannot afford for industrial action to become the new normal in the NHS.
‘Although trust leaders are incredibly adept at managing challenging situations, these prolonged strikes threaten to cause major long-term damage to the NHS, including hampering efforts and hard-won progress to tackle care backlogs.
‘We’re also concerned that fewer ambulance journeys on strike days could mean fewer patients get the urgent care they need, when they need it, and demand intensifies.’
Startling NHS figures laying bare the knock-on effects of the action so far have revealed that more than a third of all operations cancelled occurred on Monday and Tuesday alone. Pictured above, Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen on the picket line outside Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on February 6
Ambulance workers on the picket line outside Gateshead Ambulance Station, Newcastle on February 6
She added: ‘Trust leaders understand why staff are striking, and are doing all they can to ensure high-quality care for patients on those days, but the high number of postponed operations and appointments will continue to climb unless a resolution is found.
‘We all know what needs to happen next. The Government must start talking to the unions, urgently, about pay for this financial year.’
The RCN is calling for an 18.4 per cent pay rise — based on the current rate of inflation. It would see the average nurses’ salary go from £37,000 to £43,800.
But the union said it would halt the current strike action if the Government meets with its representatives to discuss pay and it has suggested it would take a lower offer than its inflation-busting request.
The Government has said its offer of around 4 per cent, or £1,400, is all it can afford.
The deal, awarded last year, was backed by the NHS Pay Review Body.
So far ministers have declined to negotiate NHS pay for the current financial year, instead saying they are focusing on discussions for the next pay round, due to start in April.
However, the Department of Health and Social Care last month revealed it had missed a critical date for submitting evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body which makes recommendations for the coming financial year.
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