Responding to confirmation from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on what NHS services will be exempt from strike action, Matthew Taylor chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“Even with the RCN confirming that some critical services will be exempt from strikes later this month, there is an urgent need to clarify the position for individual trusts regarding emergency departments, highly secure mental health facilities and urgent surgery.
“The prospect of industrial action remains of significant concern to health leaders. This is particularly true as other unions have since announced their intentions to coordinate strike activity across the NHS before Christmas, which increases the risk of cancelled appointments, scaled down services and increased waiting times when the NHS is already running hot.
“The strength of feeling from workers who have felt no choice but to opt for strike action is very clear. Health leaders will do absolutely everything within their power to keep disruption to care to a minimum, prioritising patient safety at all times. However, on behalf of their staff and their local communities, they need negotiations between the government and the unions to commence without delay so that a resolution can be found and the strikes can be called off.”