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Patients will suffer as NHS not prepared for strike

Strike action by health workers against the Government’s controversial public sector pension reforms could lead to delays in hospital tests and discharging of patients, employers have warned.Patients will suffer as NHS not prepared for strikeMembers of the Unite union working in the NHS are planning to join civil servants, Ministry of Defence civilian staff and Royal Fleet Auxiliary employees in strikes and other forms of action on May 10.

The NHS Employers organisation said it had “serious concerns” that health trusts were not being given sufficient opportunity to plan for the day of action.

Director Dean Royles said: “Employers are telling us they have not yet received written notification on which staff will be asked to withdraw their labour with action scheduled to take place in less than two weeks.

“Unions must by law do this no later than seven days before a strike, but this is healthcare we are talking about. Employers are having to rely on patchy information from local representatives but this is not enough on which to take significant decisions about patient care.

“Of course the NHS will work hard and cope but we could be so much clearer to patients and maximise safety with written information from Unite. Even in a well planned strike, there will be distress and disruption to patients.

“This is bad enough but problems will be exacerbated with every day that passes without reliable information.”

The May 10 walkout will be the biggest day of action since last November’s stoppage by more than 1.5 million public sector employees.

Unite has suspended its industrial action by health workers in Scotland after the Holyrood Government agreed to fresh talks on the NHS pension scheme.

The union, which has 100,000 members in the health service, including 15,000 in Scotland, urged the Westminster Government to follow suit.

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