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Nurses should work as usual, as doctors strike

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Nurses should attend work as usual on 21 June, despite planned industrial action by doctors on this date, the RCN has said.

The protest, against the government's proposed changes to public sector pensions, may involve GPs cancelling routine appointments and seeing only 'urgent' cases. Non-emergency secondary care services may also be disrupted.

RCN senior employment relations advisor, Gerry O'Dwyer said nurses across all sectors should continue to provide services as normal.

'Any complaints from patients or clients concerning services provided on the 21 June, should be channelled through normal hospital or general practice procedures,' he explained.

A total of 78 per cent of GPs who participated in the BMA's ballot on industrial action called for action short of a strike, with 63 per cent prepared to take part in full strike action.

By contrast, the RCN opted not to recommend industrial action due to poor participation in its February ballot about pension reforms; 62 per cent of nurses voted against changes, but turnout was only 16 per cent.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley warned doctors' industrial action would 'harm patients', a view echoed by some primary care nurses.

Speaking to IN's sister magazine Practice Nursing, West Midlands nurse practitioner Beverley Bostock-Cox said: 'It is a sad state of affairs on every level. Strike action that hits the most vulnerable members of society is a serious business.'

In a letter to BMA Council chair Dr Hamish Meldrum, Mr Lansley said there was 'no chance' of pension negotiations being reopened. Dr Meldrum (pictured) responded by saying the BMA had made it clear it would prefer 'meaningful negotiations' with government to taking industrial action.

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