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  1. National

Unions accuse Government of lies as NHS staff strike

Dave Prentis Credit: PA Wire

Unions have accused the Government of lying over NHS pay as health workers across the country take to the picket lines.

The Government said it had put forward plans to guarantee all staff would get at least 1% this year and next, but they had been rejected by the unions.

Unison leader Dave Prentis said: "It's ludicrous that the Government is keeping up the pretence that all staff are getting a 1% pay rise, and it doesn't matter how often they say it; it's simply not true."

He said the 1% pay rise recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body for all NHS workers had been rejected by the Government.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "NHS staff are our greatest asset and we want to make the current pay system fairer - which is why we have put forward proposals that would guarantee all staff would get at least a 1% pay rise this year and next, but these have been rejected by the unions.

"We have taken tough decisions to increase the NHS budget, but we can't afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking 10,000 frontline jobs."

  1. National

NHS workers to stage four-hour strike in pay row

NHS workers will stage a four-hour strike today in a row with the Government over pay.

Members of 11 unions will walk out for four hours today in the row over pay. Credit: PA Wire

Midwives, nurses, radiographers, paramedics and psychiatric staff will walk out from 7am in England and 8am in Northern Ireland in protest at the Government's refusal to accept a recommended 1% wage rise for all NHS employees.

Unison leader Dave Prentis said the second strike in a month should "sound alarm bells" in Westminster as the "anger is spreading".

A Department of Health spokesperson said the government "can't afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking 10,000 frontline jobs".

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NHS strikes over pay

Nurses and hospital workers across the North East have announced plans for further strike action.

Unison members working in the NHS walked out in October after they failed to come to agreement with the Government over a 1% pay increase, which was recommended by an independent pay review body.

They plan to stage another four hour strike on Monday morning.

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New urgent care hub for South Tyneside

NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is to open a new urgent care hub.

It will be built on the site of South Tyneside District Hospital, and the Jarrow walk-in centre will be relocated there.

Chair of the CCG and South Tyneside GP, Dr Matthew Walmsley, said:

“Many people continue to queue at A&E for minor ailments, rather than using the walk-in-centre service or their GP. By creating a ‘one stop shop’, with every service behind one front door, we can make sure that patients get the right urgent care, first time, every time.”

Mental health trust has highest rate of assaults on staff

Staff at an NHS Trust in the North East were assaulted 3,335 times in one year - the highest rate in the country.

Just three patients were responsible for more than 100 incidents each.

Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) specialises in mental health.

The NHS Protect report showed there were more than 500 assaults per 1,000 staff - a measure that helps comparison between trusts.

By contrast, the neighbouring Newcastle Hospitals Trust, which runs both the Royal Victoria Infirmary and the Freeman Hospital, had just 15 assaults per 1,000 staff.

"We care for some of the most mentally distressed people in the whole country, and a large number of these incidents were down to a small number of people. [...]

“Explanations aside, we are not complacent. We know that even one assault on a member of staff is one too many. By the same token, although around 85% of these incidents resulted in either no injury or only a minor injury being caused that does not mean they are acceptable.”

– John Lawlor, NTW Chief Executive

Concerns over busy hospitals

James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Staff at some North East hospitals say they have been exceptionally busy.

Bas Sen, a consultant working in A and E at the RVI hospital in Newcastle, says he has seen a 30% increase in total patient load.

There are also reports that the hospital had to delay transfers they would normally take from other hospitals.

He said: "We normally see about 300 patients a day, over the last two weekends we've seen over 400 patients a day."

Ben Sen in A&E at the RVI hospital Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

And there is a similar story at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, another of the region's major trauma centres.

Staff there put messages on Twitter and Facebook telling people not to go to A and E unless they really needed to.

Some patients had to be transferred to a hospital in North Yorkshire.

In a statement the trust that runs the hospital said that it did everything possible to minimise delays but that inevitably some patients did have to wait longer than usual. It also said only two patients had to be transferred from here at the James Cook to the Friarage in Northallerton.

But many say it proves local services should be bolstered, not downgraded.

"It's definitely getting worse. You've got two big hospitals, James Cook in Middlesbrough and the RVI in Newcastle. These are big hospitals, they are important in the local health economy and I know that other hospitals use these sites for referral of complicated cases. It's going to be down to lack of investment, lack of resource, it's the impact I suggest of 18 months of reorganisation of the NHS."

– Martin Wright, Unite

Cllr John Blackie, Richmondshire District Council

The Department of Health admits the NHS is experiencing unprecedented extra demand, and says it has given the NHS extra resources, along with plans to boost frontline services.

Drop in HIV diagnosis

New cases of HIV in the North East went down last year.

90 new diagnoses made in the region compared to 147 in 2012, according to Public Health England.

There was a slight increase in those treatment for HIV in the region to 1,521.

Dr Kirsty Foster, consultant for health protection for Public Health England in the North East, said: "Although we are a relatively low prevalence region compared to the rest of the UK, HIV rates in some parts of the North East are approaching the Department of Health’s threshold where universal testing would be recommended.

"Late diagnosis continues to be a significant challenge for the North East as well as nationally. This is of particular concern as we know that the health outcomes for people who are diagnosed late are significantly worse than if diagnosed early."

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