NHS braced for strike
The NHS has robust plans in place to ensure delivery of critical services during today's strike action by health unions over pensions, according to health service managers.
NHS Employers said that measures are in place to make sure services such as emergency and end-of-life care and renal dialysis will be unaffected.
Dean Royles, Director of NHS Employers, said: "I want to be clear that the NHS's overriding priority on the day of action will be the safety of our patients. We believe trade unions share this priority and they have said they will work closely with the NHS at a local level to maximise patient safety and the delivery of emergency services."
He added that discussions had gone well in the run-up to the strike.
Mr Royles noted that many services will be operating in the same way as at a weekend or bank holiday, with some operations, outpatient appointments, tests and follow-up appointments postponed.
Meanwhile, some GPs have been thwarted in their attempts to join the action. Last-minute legal clarification obtained by the union Unite has revealed that doctors in the Medical Practitioners' Union (MPU) will not be covered to take part after all.
MPU Chair Dr Ron Singer said that GPs would still be thinking of ways to show their support. They may also cut the services their practices provide if workloads are increased to cope with increased visits for illness certification.
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By Caroline Price