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Patient safety fears could stop nurses joining further coordinated walkouts

Nurses could refuse to carry out any further strikes alongside other health workers because of fears over patient safety, The Independent has learnt.

A mass walkout billed as the largest strike in NHS history is due to take place on Monday as tens of thousands of nurses, paramedics and 999 call handlers walk out in a bid to force ministers to the negotiating table.

But the coordinated strikes could be a one-off if nurses feel that the decision to take part in direct action compromises patient safety, The Independent has been told.

One union source said walkouts are not carried out on a “come what may” basis, and that the unions would have to assess whether striking together was “helpful” or not.

Unions have been escalating their industrial action in recent weeks in an attempt to secure higher pay rises. Any de-escalation in tactics will be seen as a blow to their campaign and a boost to Rishi Sunak’s hopes of riding out the wave of protests.

With patient safety the priority, sources insisted there are strong local controls that will pull nurses from picket lines if they think there is an issue.

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Source: The Independent, 5 February 2023


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