Thousands of NHS appointments cancelled as talks fail to avert nursing strike

Ministers admit they cannot eliminate risk to public from wave of industrial action

Andrew Woodcock,Rebecca Thomas
Monday 12 December 2022 23:28 GMT
Oliver Dowden says ‘most people’ do not think strike action is ‘fair’

Thousands of NHS operations and appointments are being cancelled across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, after last-ditch talks failed to avert the first nursing strike in a generation.

Up to 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are expected to walk out on Thursday, with just “life and limb” cover available and surgery being limited to cancer patients and emergencies.

Ministers said they were “straining every sinew” to mitigate the impact of industrial action on the public, but Labour accused the government of “spoiling for a fight” with unions, after health secretary Steve Barclay refused to discuss pay in talks with RCN chief executive Pat Cullen.

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