Nurse strikes: ‘angry’ NHS patient says striking nurses ‘unprofessional’ after cancelled hospital appointment

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Nurses will strike on 15 and 20 December

An NHS patient who has had an appointment cancelled due to nurse strikes has said he is “pretty angry” at the situation.

David Webb, 55, from the south-west of England received an initial diagnosis of a heart defect about eight weeks ago, after suddenly becoming very ill. After several visits to A&E over a period of a week he was informed about his medical condition.

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Mr Webb has already received some tests and scans, but is due to undergo more in order for doctors to find out more details about his condition. Another appointment was booked for 20 December, but this has been cancelled due to nurses being on strike.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are striking on 15 and 20 December due to ongoing issues over pay and staffing issues. The RCN union wants a 19% pay rise and says below inflation increases are compromising patient care by making it hard to both attract and retain nurses. But the government says the RCN’s demand is unaffordable and that it has met independent recommendations on pay.

Mr Webb’s appointment hasn’t been rescheduled yet, but he said “it is quite urgent because the consultant needs to assess what needs to be done next”.

He said he feels “pretty angry” about his appointment being cancelled and argued that nurses “pay, overtime rates, shift allowances, holiday entitlement and gold-plated pension are all very generous”.

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“The unions are obviously using peoples’ health and lives as a bargaining chip to try to extract a ridiculous pay rise at a time when the country has no money.  It is completely unprofessional in my view,” Mr Webb added.

Nurses will strike on 15 and 20 December Nurses will strike on 15 and 20 December
Nurses will strike on 15 and 20 December | Kim Mogg/NationalWorld

Why are nurses striking?

The RCN wants a 19% pay rise and says below inflation increases are compromising patient care by making it hard to both attract and retain nurses. But the government says the RCN’s demand is unaffordable and that it has met independent recommendations on pay.

Those striking are now gathering outside hospitals and have been speaking about why they’ve taken the decision to take industrial action.

In Liverpool, staff nurse Joanne McArthur, 51, on the picket line outside Aintree University Hospital, said: “We’ve got nurses that are leaving because of unsafe practices on the ward, not being able to give the patients the patient care that they deserve.

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“We come into this profession for that, so that we can give what we’ve been trained to do, and unfortunately we’re just not able to do that because of the way the situation is.”

She added: “You’ll go on duty and there’ll be supposedly four staff nurses on and you’ll end up with two. That’s to look after 28 patients which is really, really dangerous.”

In Bristol, Paula Byrne, 58, a Nurse Specialist at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, said: ‘’I’ve been a nurse for 40 years next year and I have real concerns, among myself and my colleagues, about the future of nursing.

“Daily we’re seeing nurses working under great stress with great challenge, and contributing an enormous amount of charity and good will, to maintain patient care so that’s a real concern for me. You’re seeing burnouts, you’re seeing thousands of nurse leaving the profession. “

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Daniel Tumino, 39, senior nurse in neonatal intensive care, added: ‘’We’re striking for our safety and the safety of our patients. The pay is getting very low, especially in my unit, we’re losing nurses day to day.”

Mr Tumino said people are getting “stressed and tired” and that “sometimes you think I cannot do this anymore”. He added: ‘’I would like a pay rise equal to inflation, that’s all. They’ve not been doing that for 12 years. Last year we got a 3% pay rise and they took off 2% for national insurance – so they gave 3% and took 2%, it’s not right.’’

RCN chief executive and general secretary Pat Cullen told the PA news agency: “I woke up this morning very, very early and felt heartbroken as a nurse.

“First of all, tragic that I have to lead the profession on to the picket lines to have their voice heard, and I think that is a serious indictment of this Government. It’s tragic for nursing, it’s tragic for patients and it’s tragic for the NHS, that the Government feels that they can sit in their offices today and keep our nurses out in the cold.”

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