Care providers are worried about the impact upcoming nurse and ambulance strikes will have on the care of older and vulnerable adults.
The care provider organization, The Independent Care Group (ICG) says relevant health and ambulance trusts will need to have contingencies in place to ensure continuity in care.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:
“For the sake of the country our overall wish, regardless of politics, is that these disputes are resolved quickly as we place the welfare, safety and wellbeing of our care and nursing home residents and our homecare clients first and foremost.
“Looking dispassionately and objectively at the situation it is clear that the health service is suffering, as we are within social care, from a lack of sensible funding to properly recognize the contribution our teams make in maintaining the health of the nation.
“NHS staff worked side by side with social care staff during the pandemic and deserve to be rewarded properly for the amazing work they do.
“We have sympathy for health trusts who are up against financial difficulties and the Government has to face up to the fact that greater investment needs to be put into healthcare – both NHS and social care – to properly reward staff and to tackle staff shortages.
“Setting aside the political arguments, as social care providers we have to deal with the practicalities and be aware that if a resident suffers, say, a fall or another injury – an ambulance might not be available. And if we have residents who are having treatment of one sort or another at hospital, that the nurses’ strike might impact upon that. We will hope that the health and ambulance trusts will make contingency plans to ensure a continuity of care and also make our own plans for whatever the situation is at the time.”
Matthew Taylor chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“The prospect of industrial action over Christmas is very concerning to health leaders. Staffing urgent and critical care services will continue to be their number one priority and leaders will ensure their local communities understand how their specific services will be affected as this may vary from region to region.
“If ambulance staff, 999 call handlers and nurses walk out on consecutive days over the festive period then undoubtedly this will affect patient care and ambulance response times, despite everything the NHS is doing to prepare for these strikes. Health leaders are also concerned that the prospect of strike action may affect how people decide to engage with the NHS but the advice remains that if it is an emergency, it is vital they should still call 999.
“While leaders are concerned about the impact of the strike days, they understand how their staff are feeling. NHS staff are running on empty and are exhausted after giving their all during the pandemic and have very little in the way of respite for several years now.
“It is time for the government and the trade unions to get round the table, begin negotiations as soon as possible, and be prepared to compromise.”