NHS services in England will be severely disrupted today after nurses went on strike for 28 hours over wages.
The walkout, which will finish shortly before midnight, comes after a High Court judge determined it would be ‘unlawful’ for the strike to continue into Tuesday as scheduled.
Thousands of NHS staff will also march through downtown London on Monday.
The march will coincide with a walkout by members of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, according to Unite.
It comes in response to concerns about the strike’s impact on patient safety.
After concerns were raised about the impact of the strike action on emergency services, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary Pat Cullen said yesterday that measures were in place to keep patients safe.
The union had stated that it would not agree to derogations – large areas of care where personnel is assured despite industrial action – but, in an apparent U-turn, accepted some exemptions on Friday.
The Unite walkout follows the rejection of the Government’s pay offer by its members.
The union said that with inflation still in double figures, the offer is a ‘substantial real-terms pay cut’ for NHS workers.
NHS England warned that staffing levels in some areas of the country today will be ‘exceptionally low, lower than on previous strike days’.
It added the number of rescheduled appointments due to strike action is set to hit half a million next week.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has said the 28-hour nursing strike is ‘premature’ and ‘disrespectful’ to other unions.
Nurses make up a quarter of NHS staff and are the biggest proportion of the health service workforce.