Our sick children are being put at risk by latest nurses strike

Sick youngsters could be put in jeopardy when nurses walk out again tomorrow, the country’s largest children’s hospital warned.

Great Ormond Street pleaded with nurses to exempt its services from strike action to ensure the safety of young patients.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing will walk out tomorrow at 8pm until midnight on Monday.

In an escalation of its action, the union has not agreed to exempt any services from action – meaning cancer, emergency and children’s care will all be affected.

Matthew Shaw, chief executive of Great Ormond Street, said: “We respect the right of our staff to take part in lawful industrial action.

“But after exhausting all options, we have serious concerns over how we will safely staff our hospital.”

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our patients.”

“These children have no voice in the debate and we must protect them.”

“We urgently need safety exemptions for our intensive care units and other areas of the hospital.”

To help ease the impact, the hospital has discharged patients who are safely able to go home, and explored sending patients to private hospitals.

It comes amid fresh strike woe after ambulance workers and junior hospital staff – from the Unite union – rejected the Government’s pay offer.

More than 4,000 members are set to walk out this weekend.

Ambulance staff in Yorkshire will do so Monday, with colleagues in the South of England and West Midlands following on Tuesday.

Industrial action will also hit some hospitals in London, Manchester, Lancashire and the West Midlands.

But members of the GMB accepted the pay offer to health workers – which amounts to a five percent rise plus a one-off payment of at least £1,655 this financial year.

The GMB – which also represents some ambulance crew and other staff – will vote to back the deal at Tuesday’s NHS Staff Council meeting.

A majority vote in favour would pave the way for the package to be implemented by the Government to all staff covered by the Agenda for Change offer – including members of unions that have rejected it.

There are 14 unions involved and the vote is weighted by membership numbers – Unison, which has accepted it, and the RCN, which doesn’t, are the largest.

The GMB’s Rachel Harrison said: “Our members recognise that progress has been made – from the Government originally offering nothing, health workers will be thousands of pounds better off.”

“It also meets a key GMB demand of a huge pay uplift for the lowest paid, lifting them above the Real Living Wage.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Today’s decision by members of GMB to accept the pay offer, following Unison – who represent the largest share of the NHS workforce – the Royal College of Midwives and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, demonstrates it is a fair and reasonable proposal that can bring this dispute to an end.”

“I’m hopeful the NHS Staff Council accepts our offer when they meet.”

But Unite’s Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members will return to the picket line to continue their fight. Rishi Sunak needs to take over this mess, roll his sleeves up and sort it.”

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