11 July 2023

NHS strikes could ‘break relationship’ between staff and bosses – health leaders

11 July 2023

The bitter row over pay between health unions and the Government risks “breaking the fundamental relationship between the NHS and its staff”, health leaders have warned.

NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, called for eleventh hour talks to prevent walkouts by junior doctors, consultants and radiographers in the coming weeks.

The organisation has been contacted by more than 100 chief executives and chairs of NHS trusts who have “deep concerns about the lasting legacy” of the strikes, NHS Providers said.

Junior doctors in England are planning to stage the largest walkout in the NHS’s history from July 13-18.

And consultants – the most senior doctors in the NHS – are planning to stage industrial action from July 20-21, when they will only provide scaled-back “Christmas Day cover”.

Then radiographers will strike at 43 NHS trusts between 8am on July 25 and 8am on July 27.

NHS Providers said NHS trusts will “hardly have time to draw breath” between the strikes and warned against the “domino effect of repeated waves of industrial action”.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The impact of these disputes is fraying the fabric of the NHS, held together by a unique sense of commitment and shared endeavour across the workforce that has served it so well over so many years.

“We lose that at our peril.

Trusts will hardly have time to draw breath after a five-day walkout by junior doctors before consultants strike for two days, followed by a two-day strike by radiographers

“The disruption for many thousands of patients and the potential harm of delaying their treatment is a huge and growing risk for the NHS to manage.

“Trusts will hardly have time to draw breath after a five-day walkout by junior doctors before consultants strike for two days, followed by a two-day strike by radiographers.

“The domino effect of repeated waves of industrial action is eroding the fundamental relationship between trust leaders and their staff.”

She added: “Trust leaders understand the strength of feeling among striking staff, who they value and work with for patients every day, and why they are taking action.

“Trusts will continue to do everything they can to limit disruption and keep patients safe but that’s getting harder and more expensive with every strike as the cost of hiring cover grows, and with staff dissatisfaction increasing as disputes remain unresolved.

“Eight consecutive months of industrial action across the NHS are taking their toll not just on patients, with more than 651,000 routine procedures and appointments forced to be rescheduled, but on already overstretched services – hampering efforts to cut waiting lists.

“Even at the eleventh hour, looming strikes can be avoided. We urge the government and the unions to find a way forward and prevent thousands more patients paying the price of these disputes.”

Conciliation service Acas has said it stands ready to help end the dispute between doctors and the Government.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We value the work of NHS staff and further strike action will be hugely disruptive for patients, put pressure on other staff and impact our efforts to cut waiting lists.

“More than one million eligible NHS staff received their pay rise and one-off payments last month and the first ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, backed by over £2.4 billion government funding, will deliver the biggest training expansion in history, while recruiting and retaining hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years.

“We hope other unions who remain in dispute with the Government recognise it is time to stop industrial action and move forward together. We cannot negotiate in good faith if strike action is ongoing.”

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