Nurses pause strike action as Government agrees to talks over pay | The Sun

NURSING strikes were paused today as ministers and union bosses finally agreed to pay talks.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) — which had planned strikes for 48 hours from March 1 — will enter negotiations with Health Secretary Steve Barclay tomorrow.

The union said the talks will focus on pay, with both sides “committed to finding a fair and reasonable settlement”.

It comes after hospital bosses warned worsening strikes would threaten to derail No10’s plans to clear the backlog.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The Government and Royal College of Nursing have agreed to enter a process of intensive talks. 

“Both sides are committed to finding a fair and reasonable settlement that recognises the vital role nurses play in the NHS and the wider economic pressures facing the UK and the Prime Minister’s priority to halve inflation."

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The spokesperson added: "The talks will focus on pay, terms and conditions, and productivity enhancing reforms. 

“The Royal College of Nursing will pause strike action during these talks.”

The stalemate broke for the first time since the union's original walkout in December, giving hope of an end to the NHS chaos.

The next nursing strike had been planned for next Wednesday, lasting into Friday morning.

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The RCN originally demanded a rise equal to 19 per cent but have indicated they will settle for less.

The pause will come as welcome news to the struggling health service, after junior doctors yesterday announced they would also be taking action for three days next month.

Tens of thousands more appointments and operations face being postponed in March, with around 150,000 hit by strikes already.

Nick Hulme, chief of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust, said scaled-up strikes will have a “significant impact on already worryingly high waiting times”.

He told LBC radio: "This is a significant shift in the industrial action now involving doctors, nurses and paramedics.

"So it will mean that we will be in a position of cancelling an awful lot of our elective care."

Mr Hulme said medics will be sent to the highest risk parts of hospitals on strike days, with A&E and intensive care top priorities.

He said: “That will mean that we won't be able to provide most of our outpatients and our planned or elective operations.”

There are 7.2million people on NHS waiting lists in England and many face waiting months for treatment.

Junior doctors are demanding a 26 per cent pay rise, which Health Minister Maria Caulfield has slammed as “unrealistic”, adding strikes will “put patients at risk”.

The strikes are expected to be in the middle of next month and could coincide with action from nurses and 999 crews, the BMA said.

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Ambulance workers, who walked out on Monday, will strike again on March 6 and March 20.

Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, admitted the strikes may “disrupt emergency care and pose a risk for patient safety”.

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