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Concern over NHS nurse contracts as BMA calls off doctors’ strikes

Will government move to impose new contracts on nurses in the NHS?
NHS staff demo

Speculation is mounting over whether nurses working in the NHS will face the imposition of a new contract, following the junior doctors’ dispute.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called off a series of strikes planned by junior doctors in England over their NHS contract battle with the government.

Nurses taking part in online debates are worried it is inevitable they will see similar moves as the government pushes to expand seven-day services. However, some nurse academics have suggested the dispute could lead to opportunities for nurses.

Opportunities for nurse practitioners

Senior lecturer in children’s nursing at Wolverhampton University Dean-David Holyoake said many nurses supported the junior doctors’ action but were also proud their profession had not yet gone on strike. He added the move to expand seven-day services could lead to opportunities for nurses.

‘There’s this feeling that while other professional groups are having their

Speculation is mounting over whether nurses working in the NHS will face the imposition of a new contract, following the junior doctors’ dispute.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called off a series of strikes planned by junior doctors in England over their NHS contract battle with the government.

Nurses taking part in online debates are worried it is inevitable they will see similar moves as the government pushes to expand seven-day services. However, some nurse academics have suggested the dispute could lead to opportunities for nurses.

Opportunities for nurse practitioners

Senior lecturer in children’s nursing at Wolverhampton University Dean-David Holyoake said many nurses supported the junior doctors’ action but were also proud their profession had not yet gone on strike. He added the move to expand seven-day services could lead to opportunities for nurses.

‘There’s this feeling that while other professional groups are having their battles, there are opportunities for nurses to extend and expand their roles in terms of nurse practitioners,’ he said.

One staff nurse, who is also a medical student, commented on the Guardian website that while a a seven-day NHS would be welcomed, it was not possible without reducing weekday services.

'Doctors not the only staff’

‘Doctors are not the only staff in hospitals that are needed seven days, and trying to achieve full seven-day working on the strength of junior doctors alone is simply not going to work,’ the nurse said.

Another commented: ‘I suspect they’ll now press ahead and impose new contracts on nurses and ancillary staff and eventual privatisation of the NHS.’

Junior doctors were due to stage a full withdrawal of labour for three five-day periods in October, November and December.

The BMA cited patient safety as the reason for suspending strike plans, but said it was considering other action.

Fight goes on

Junior doctors committee chair Ellen McCourt said the fight was not over.

‘For many people this whole dispute has turned on how the NHS will assure quality care over seven days,’ Dr McCourt said.

‘It has highlighted the need for an honest debate led by the BMA on how this will be achieved. We call on our colleagues across the medical profession, other healthcare professionals, and the government and patient groups to engage with junior doctors on this.’

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