Terminal cancer patient joins nurse picket line outside the Christie Hospital in Manchester

A woman with terminal cancer has joined the picket line in support of thousands of NHS nurses who are fighting for better pay and working conditions.

Despite her condition, Claire Mooney was determined to get out and show her admiration for the NHS workers who have supported her through her diagnosis.

Wrapped up in a hat, scarf, and coat, Claire stood outside The Christie Hospital in Manchester holding a sign that read: "This cancer patient supports the nurses".

She said: "It's important for me to join nursing staff on the picket line because in 2020 I got diagnosed with terminal cancer and they have supported me ever since.

"They have put their lives on hold for my benefit."

Hospitals, mental health and community services across 21 trusts across the North West will be affected by the walkout, which will end 11:59pm on Monday 1 May.

It is the latest industrial action in a dispute over pay, but only involves the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the largest nursing union in the country, after nurses from other unions accepted an offer from the government.

Nurses comprise a quarter of NHS staff and are the biggest proportion of the health service workforce.

RCN union leader Pat Cullen urged Health Secretary Steve Barclay “not to be disrespectful” to nurses after he described their ongoing industrial action as “premature” to the other trade unions who are meeting to discuss the Government’s pay offer on Tuesday.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told Sky that strikes have “taken a heavy toll” on services and urged unions to accept the pay deal.

“I think our view now is that given that most staff have voted in favour of this deal, it is time to accept it, for the unions to work together and for us to think more long-term about what we need to do to address that crisis of 120,000 vacancies in the health service,” he said.

“Obviously we’d rather these strikes were not taking place. They come after six months of on-and-off industrial action which has taken a heavy toll on the NHS.”

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