Nurses today staged their second consecutive day of strike action insisting it will continue until the Government opens pay talks.
Exhausted NHS medics from more than 70 hospitals said they were on picket lines “as a last resort”, chanting: “What do we want, fair staffing, when do we want it, now.”
The Royal College of Nursing has said strikes will continue “for as long as it takes” as 15,000 nurses walked out for 12 hours from 7.30am.
Claire Holmes, a nurse for over two decades, said at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough: “If they’re not speaking to us how else can we be heard?
“We’ve tried all avenues, we don’t want to be here today nobody wants to be on strike, but we’ve tried everything else. This is our last resort.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has had repeated meetings with health unions at which he has refused to discuss the issue of pay.
Nurse Martin Black , speaking from the picket at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington, said: “It’s such an emotional conflict for us really.
“We want to be in the hospital providing care to our patients to the standard we expect every day.
“Not being able to do that is an unbelievable strain on us, so what else can we do about it? “Removing our services is all that we can do.
“But we have to look at the long-term and how many more patients will benefit from a properly funded NHS.
“I’m away from the rest of my team, away from patients - and that does cause me anxiety.”
Nurses on picket lines, such as those outside Bradford Royal Infirmary yesterday(Tue), will be replaced by physiotherapists on strike tomorrow(Thur) and then Unison’s ambulance crews will strike on Friday.
Nurse Estephanie Dunn, RCN’s north west director, said: “It’s within the Government’s gift to end this strike.
“In terms of the level of support we are getting from nurses across the country, yes they’re struggling losing a day’s pay to support a strike, but they’re saying we’ve come this far and we’re not going to give up now because it’s too important.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I have held constructive talks with the trade unions on pay and affordability and continue to urge them to call off the strikes.”