NHS nurses are on strike for the second time today in a dispute with the government over pay and patient safety.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will take industrial action in England, Wales and Northern Ireland once again following the first strike on December 15, the first in the union’s 106-year history.
Strikes by ambulance staff and some NHS workers in Scotland have been called off after members of two unions voted to accept the Scottish government’s latest pay deal.
What services will continue to be provided?
The RCN has provided a list of areas that will be “exempt from strike action.”
These are chemotherapy, dialysis, pediatric emergencies, critical care units such as intensive care and high dependency, neonatal and pediatric intensive care.
Other services outside of these “may be reduced” to a level of service at night or on Christmas Day.
Next Concerns of nursing managers about patient safety.The RCN has confirmed that cancer patients will undergo emergency and clinically urgent surgery on strike days.
Emergency cancer services will be protected, even for those with specific needs due to chemotherapy.
Protections have also been agreed for some mental health, learning disabilities and autism services as part of an emergency response.
NHS community teams will provide palliative care and clinically urgent interventions such as insulin, while inpatient areas will be staffed on night duty.
The head of the NHS Confederation said ahead of the first day of action that unions are committed to maintaining emergency and intensive care services, and that he was “reasonably confident that we will not see serious harm to patients”.
Matthew Taylor, speaking for healthcare systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, added that patients can expect a bank holiday level of service at hospitals during the industrial action.
What happens if you have to go to the ER?
“Front door” urgent care intake and assessment units, including A&E, will be staffed at the same level as on Christmas Day.
The NHS says emergency care will continue to be available across the country, and it is “very important” that people normally show up in an “emergency or life-threatening case”.
Pediatric A&E is exempt from strikes.
Anyone who needs urgent care should use NHS111 online or dial 111 to be assessed, the NHS says.
But if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is in danger, emergency care should be sought in the usual way by calling 999 or going to the A&E.
What happens if you have a hospital appointment scheduled?
Patients are advised to attend as planned, unless they have been contacted by the NHS provider to reschedule.
Even if the hospital trust is affected by strikes, people are still required to keep appointments unless otherwise stated.
Patients will have been contacted by letter or phone call and will be offered a new date if their appointment needs to be rescheduled.
Will GP services be available?
Yes, GP services will run normally. People must keep their scheduled appointments.
What services will be directly affected?
Widespread disruption to planned care, such as non-emergency operations and outpatient appointments, is expected.
Thousands of appointments and operations will need to be rescheduled as they are unlikely to take place on the day of the action.
It is estimated that up to 100,000 nurses will join the strike, which will last 12 hours each day.
What other issues have been raised about patient care?
Dame Ruth May, Director of Nursing for England, and her counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have written to RCN Secretary General Pat Cullen about a number of safety concerns.
They said chemotherapy is being rescheduled from strike days at some hospitals, despite the union agreeing it would be exempted nationwide.
But an RCN spokesman said there would be an exemption for emergency cancer services, adding: “Cancer patients will have emergency and clinically urgent surgery, that is not in doubt.”
Where will the strikes take place?
Not all hospitals in the country will be affected by the strike, but here is a list of those where strikes are scheduled:
• Kettering General Hospital National Health Service Foundation Trust
• NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICB
• Northamptonshire Healthcare National Health Service Foundation Trust
• Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
• Nottinghamshire Healthcare National Health Service Foundation Trust
• Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
• Cambridgeshire NHS Trust Community Services
• Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust
• NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex ICBs
• Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s National Health Service Foundation Trust
• Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
• Imperial College Healthcare National Health Service Trust
• NHS North Central London ICB
• Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
• Alder Hey Children NHS Foundation Trust
• Health Education England
• Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS found confidence
• Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
• Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
• Clatterbridge Cancer Center NHS found confidence
• The Walton Center NHS Foundation Trust
• Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust
• Northumbria Healthcare National Health Service Foundation Trust
• The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust
• Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
• Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
• Devon Partnership NHS Trust
• Gloucestershire National Health and Care Service Foundation Trust
• Gloucestershire Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust
• Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• NHS Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire ICB (BSW Together)
• NHS Devon ICB (A Devon)
• NHS Gloucestershire ICB (One Gloucestershire)
• North Bristol NHS Trust
• Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
• Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust
• Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
• Bristol and Weston University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Plymouth NHS Trust University Hospitals
• Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
• Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
• NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB (BSol ICB)
• The Royal Orthopedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Birmingham University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
Yorkshire and the Humber:
• Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Leeds National Community Health Service Trust
• Yorkshire and Humber National Health Service (England)
• The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
• Cardiff University Health Board and Vale
• Powys Local Teaching Health Board
• Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust Headquarters
• Hywel Dda University Board of Health
• Swansea Bay University Board of Health
• Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board
• Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board
• Velindre NHS Trust
• Public Health Wales
• Education and Health Improvement Health Authority of Wales
• Wales NHS Shared Services Association
• Wales Digital Health and Care
• Northern Ireland Education and Practice Council
• Southern Health and Social Care Trust
• Occidental Health and Social Care Trust
• Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
• Business Services Organization
• Quality Regulation and Improvement Authority
• Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service
• Public Health Agency
• Northern Health and Social Care Trust
• Southeast Health and Social Care Trust
• Northern Ireland Ambulance Service