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Nurses reaffirm support for striking junior doctors

Thousands of nurses sign petition against government plans to change junior doctors' contracts

A petition in support of junior doctors signed by thousands of nurses will be handed to the Department of Health after this week's strikes.

More than 5,000 people have signed the document, which also expresses support for nursing students embroiled in their own fight over plans to scrap the NHS nursing bursary.

The petition will be delivered at 5pm on Wednesday, shortly after the second of this week’s junior doctors’ walkouts is due to end. The doctors plan to withdraw from emergency care for the first time in the history of the NHS.

Campaigner and King’s College London third-year nursing student Danielle Tiplady claims the petition shows the NHS is united against government pressure.

She dismissed as ‘media scaremongering’ discussion of how severe the effects of the strike will be. She said people who become ill during the strikes should go to hospital because they will be 'better staffed than on any other day’. She added patients staying away ‘is the last thing we need'.

The petition comes with a letter from nurses and midwives. It reads: ‘The erosion of our colleagues’ and our working conditions, and increasing pressure on the NHS due to underfunding through persistent austerity measures, risks the safety of our patients.’

It says the new contract ‘will lead to an increase in unfilled rota gaps, placing extra pressure on nurses and other health professionals and services'.

The first ever full withdrawal of labour by junior doctors is due to begin at 8am tomorrow (Tuesday 26) and will run until 5pm. The strikers will repeat their action the following day (Wednesday 27).

The doctors union the BMA, and the heads of 14 medical royal colleges appealed for negotiations to resume but this was rejected by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

More than 125,000 operations and appointments have been cancelled because of the strike and consultants and locums will cover emergencies.

The RCN has repeated its advice to nurses not to feel under pressure to perform tasks for which they are unqualified.

The Royal College of Midwives told its members each employer will have contingency plans in place to ensure the safety of mothers and babies.

Earlier today, junior doctor Ben White resigned live on television from his job at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, saying he was devoting himself to a campaign called Justice for Health, which seeks to have Mr Hunt’s decision declared illegal.

To sign the petition, click here

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