'Challenging' bank holiday weekend ahead as NHS nurses stage 48-hour walk-out

Wigan's hospital chiefs warned of increased pressure on services when nurses stage a 48-hour strike over the bank holiday weekend.
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Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are set to take part in industrial action starting from this Sunday (April 30) at 8pm, until Tuesday, May 2, as part of their long-running pay dispute with the government.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said they were preparing for an expected increase in pressure on its services.

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As with previous periods of industrial action involving the RCN and the recent British Medical Association strike involving junior doctors earlier this month, WWL is reassuring the public that it has robust plans in place to protect life, limb and sight-saving services in order to safely care for those who need it most.

A nurses' picket outside Wigan Infirmary on the last occasion of RCN strike action in February 2023A nurses' picket outside Wigan Infirmary on the last occasion of RCN strike action in February 2023
A nurses' picket outside Wigan Infirmary on the last occasion of RCN strike action in February 2023
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Challenges for WWL and other neighbouring NHS Trusts taking part in the industrial action will be increased further in this latest round, as this is set to take place over a Bank Holiday weekend.

Speaking ahead of the industrial action, WWL’s Chief Nurse, Rabina Tindale, said: “We completely respect the rights of union members to take part in industrial action, and, just like previous days of industrial action, patient safety, will remain our top priority.

“As a Trust, we are incredibly grateful to the public for the support they have given to WWL over a very challenging winter and the previous periods of industrial action, but I must ask that everyone continues to help us provide essential care to people who really do need it most.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Trust chief nurse Rabina TindaleWrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Trust chief nurse Rabina Tindale
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Trust chief nurse Rabina Tindale

“A number of our services will feel the impact of this latest strike, but we are committed to protecting patients who are already in our care and those who need to be treated for life, limb or sight-threatening conditions through our Emergency Department.

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“It is incredibly important that you choose the most appropriate services available to you, and by avoiding our Emergency Department in Wigan unless it is for a life or limb-threatening emergency.”

There are a number of ways WWL is calling on the public to prepare for the industrial action and the Bank Holiday weekend, actions Rabina said can go a long way to supporting the Trust and each other:

“We would also encourage our community to help us by being on hand to collect loved ones as soon as they’re well enough to return to their normal place of residence. This will not only help to make patients feel as comfortable and as supported as possible when they leave our hospitals, but it will also free up hospital beds for those who need our care the most.

“Bank Holiday weekends are always challenging for the NHS, and this one will be no different, so it’s really important to make sure that you’re prepared from a self-care perspective. We would always advise being well-stocked on over-the-counter medications, as well as making sure you have organised enough of any repeat prescriptions to last you through the Bank Holiday.”

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If you have an appointment planned for the dates of the strike action, unless otherwise advised directly by WWL, all patients are asked to attend their appointments as normal. You do not need to contact WWL, anyone whose appointments or care may be impacted will be contacted directly by WWL to reschedule a new date as soon as possible.

If you need medical advice and support and your condition is not life or limb-threatening, visit NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk in the first instance or call the 111 helpline, contact your GP, or contact a local pharmacy for advice. More information about the services available to you across Wigan and Greater Manchester can be found through the ‘Get to Know Where to Go’ resources at gmintegratedcare.org.uk/GTKWTG