NURSES’ walkouts will drag on for six painful months if they do not get a pay boost, union leaders have warned.
Thousands of appointments and operations will be cancelled again today as the Royal College of Nursing holds its second day of action.
Patricia Marquis, RCN director for England, warned bosses have the power to keep calling NHS strikes until May.
About a third of hospitals have been hit in the first round of walkouts — on Thursday and tomorrow — with action set to intensify in the new year.
Ms Marquis said: “Sadly, if there is no resolution, then our members have taken a vote to take strike action and that mandate lasts for six months.
“I really hope and I pray that is not what happens.
“We do not want to see protracted strikes, nor do we want to see further disruption to the NHS.”
Nearly 16,000 appointments were cancelled when 9,999 staff walked out in last week’s strike.
The same is expected today as the RCN holds its last day of action before the new year, with ambulance strikes to follow tomorrow.
They want an inflation-busting pay rise, with an initial 19 per cent.
But Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “The RCN’s demands are unaffordable during these challenging times.”
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