Great Ormond Street Hospital declares ‘business continuity incident’ ahead of nurses’ strike

Great Ormond Street Hospital (PA Archive)
Great Ormond Street Hospital (PA Archive)

Great Ormond Street Hospital said it has “serious concerns” over whether it can be safely staffed during the planned nurses strike over the bank holiday weekend.

The world famous children’s hospital said it had “no choice” but to declare a “business continuity incident” ahead of the walkout by the Royal College of Nursing union from Sunday evening to Monday evening.

Its chief executive Mat Shaw said: “We urgently need safety exemptions for our intensive care units and other areas of the hospital.”

Nurses have already walked out twice this year - on 6 and 7 February and on 18 and 19 January - but on those dates there were exemptions, so nursing cover was maintained in critical areas.

During the upcoming strike, nurses will not provide emergency care in A&E or on cancer wards.

Measures being taken at Great Ormond Street amid the concerns about staffing levels include discharging patients who are safely able to return home.

Mr Shaw added: “We respect the right of our staff to take part in lawful industrial action, but after exhausting all options, at the moment we have serious concerns over how we will safely staff our hospital during the strike.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our patients and so we have no choice but to declare a business continuity incident.

“These children have no voice in the debate and we must protect them.”

It comes after St Thomas’ Hospital has already warned it would have a “significantly reduced” service in A&E.

RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen previously said the union was looking for a “significantly improved” offer “as soon as possible” in order to prevent strike action.

The RCN has had to cut short what was a planned 48 hour walkout from Sunday after losing court action taken by the Government questioning the legality of the strike.

The judge ruled the RCN’s six-month mandate for strike action would have lapsed by Tuesday - so the walkout will end on Monday evening instead.

Separately, Unite on Friday rejected a pay offer from the Government after recommending members to vote against the deal.

Members voted by 52 per cent against the offer of a 5 per cent wage rise this year and a cash payment for last year. The turnout was 55 per cent.

Unite said the result showed very high figures of rejection for grades mostly in frontline services with patients.

Members of the union at Guys and St Thomas’ Trust in south London, and the Yorkshire Ambulance Trust, will go ahead with a strike on Monday, the union announced.

GMB are expected to announce results of their ballot on the pay deal on Friday afternoon. The result of the vote is key as it could determine whether the NHS staff council, which is comprised of several different unions, vote in favour of the Government’s pay offer.

Unison, the largest health union, and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) have voted in favour of the deal.

NHS workers will also take part in a protest march in central London on Monday.