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Fears NHS operations will be axed as nurses set to strike next month

NURSES are set to strike next month, sparking fears operations will be axed.

Votes are being counted on a first mass NHS walkout with results expected this week.

The Royal College of Nursing has requested an increase in pay of up to 5%
Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden urged nurses to reconsider the potentially devestating strike

Contingency plans for essential services are being made, with priority given to departments such as Accident and Emergency, a senior minister said over the weekend.

The Royal College of Nursing is demanding a five per cent pay rise above the current 12.3 per cent retail prices inflation rate for its 300,000 members.

Emergency care will be maintained during any action.

A health official said that no elective work will be carried out during this time and likened the level of service to that of a bank holiday.

Speaking to The Telegraph the source said: “The understanding we have… is that they will commit to delivering a bank holiday level of service.

“On bank holidays we don’t do elective work, but we do do emergency work.

“Outpatient surgery, day surgery, chemo, dialysis… some of the things we have for discharging, transferring care, of patients [which] wouldn’t always happen on a bank holiday… it’s those kinds of services [which will be disrupted].”

But Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden urged nurses to reconsider.

He said: “If you are in the situation where you have a large number of nurses going out on strike of course that is going to have an impact, for example on some elective surgery and other activities.”

He said the Government had already agreed “quite considerable support” for nurses.

He told Sky News: “We will make sure we prioritise the most essential services — emergency services and so on.”

The RCN said wages had fallen by 20 per cent since 2010.

General secretary Pat Cullen said: “Our action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We urge them to carefully consider the potential impact on patients.”

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