Thousands of nurses across NI stage second day of strikes

Thousands of nurses across Northern Ireland are undertaking a second day of strike action.

Wednesday’s protest over salary rates and staff shortages will result in the cancellation of thousands of hospital appointments.

  • VIDEO: Deborah McAleese reports from pickets lines across Greater Belfast

Earlier this week, the Department of Health urged trade unions to return to talks.

The department's permanent secretary, Richard Pengelly, has warned that hospitals are already under severe pressure.

Discussions broke down before Christmas when a fresh 3.1% pay offer was rejected by unions.

The Royal College of Nursing is staging walkouts on Wednesday and Friday, and members of Northern Ireland's largest health workers' union, Unison, are due to strike on Friday.

Midwives are also being asked if they are willing to take strike action.

Unions have called for pay parity with their colleagues in the rest of the UK.

  • VIDEO: Mark McFadden reports from pickets lines in Derry

All emergency departments will remain open as normal, but they are under extreme pressure due to winter demand.

The reduced staffing levels will significantly affect the ability of the system to discharge patients.

  • VIDEO: Sara O'Kane reports from picket lines in Enniskillen

The South Tyrone Hospital Minor Injury Unit (MIU), Mid Ulster MIU and Bangor MIU are closed throughout Wednesday.

Pat Cullen, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland, visited picket lines on Wednesday morning.

  • Belfast Trust have cancelled 1,232 outpatient appointments and 113 inpatient and day case procedures.

  • South Eastern Trust have cancelled 712 outpatient appointments and 155 procedures.

  • Western Trust have postponed 253 outpatient appointments.

  • Northern Trust have cancelled 138 outpatient appointments and 20 inpatient appointments.

  • Southern Trust have cancelled 45 outpatient appointments.

Around 5,000 medical appointments were cancelled following the unprecedented nurses' strike which paralysed parts of the NHS late last year.

Northern Ireland has some of the longest waiting lists for treatment in the UK, and the political stalemate at Stormont has hampered efforts to address problems in the NHS.

  • VIDEO: Sharon O'Neill speaks to the daughter of an elderly woman who waited more than 24 hours for a hospital bed