NURSES across Devon are joining around 10,000 NHS nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who are striking today, Tuesday, for the second time in less than a week in protest over their pay.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, will see ambulance staff in England and Wales walk out too, unless a meeting later with the health secretary can avert it.

Steve Barclay has invited three unions representing paramedics to talks.

It follows warnings of extensive disruption to services at a very challenging time of year for the NHS.

A joint letter was sent out by health chiefs to NHS trusts and integrated care boards in England, urging hospitals to free-up beds by safely discharging patients ahead of industrial action by ambulance crews.

Measures should also be put in place to make sure ambulance patient handovers are kept to no more than 15 minutes, it advises.

The health secretary will meet with ambulance unions later today, but will be discussing staffing measures rather than the issue of pay.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said the pay offer to nurses is appropriate and fair, despite pressure from health leaders and some former Conservative ministers to rethink. In one national paper he is quoted as saying ‘I won’t back down’ and that the current pay offer is fair and resonable.

The nurses unions are calling for a 19 per cent pays rise and the Government has offered a pay rise of roughly £1,400 this year – worth about four per cent, on average.

The Mid-Devon Advertiser would welcome comments from any nurses involved in the dispute.