HEALTHCARE services in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board region are not expected to be impacted by today's nursing strikes.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are taking industrial action today (December 15) and – if an agreement cannot be reached – again on Tuesday, December 20 as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and patient safety concerns.

The Welsh Government and a number of unions – including the RCN – met on Monday afternoon, but failed to reach an agreement.

This means that RCN nurses are striking for the first time in their history across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This includes in six of the seven health boards in Wales, and at the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and at Velindre NHS Trust.

Some services are exempt from strike action and will run as normal – including chemotherapy, dialysis, intensive care and high dependency units, neonatal intensive care, paediatric intensive care, and accident and emergency departments.

Union members will not be walking out at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, however, after only 49.6 per cent of members voted in the ballot – meaning the 50 per cent turnout threshold was not met.

When asked if the strikes elsewhere will have any impact on healthcare services in Gwent, a spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “As our nurses did not vote to strike, there will be no impact on our services.”

In July, following the recommendation of the NHS pay review body, a flat pay increase of £1,400 was announced for nurses, cleaners, porters, healthcare support workers and healthcare professionals, on most Agenda for Change pay bands.

However, unions have repeatedly argued that the pay rise, which is as much as 10.8 per cent for those in the lowest paid roles, still leaves workers worse off in real terms compared with 10 years ago.

Health minister Eluned Morgan said: “We believe all public sector workers should be fairly rewarded for the important work they do.

“The strikes which begin today will inevitably have a significant impact on NHS services. But we recognise the strength of feeling among staff, which the difficult decision to vote for industrial action reflects.

“While we were unable to avert this week’s industrial action, all partners have agreed to keep talking and continue to work together. We will work continue to bring together trade unions, employers and government to deliver the best possible outcomes for workers within the funding we have available.”

Helen Whyley, director of RCN Wales, said the decision to strike “has not been taken lightly”.

“I have visited hospitals and workplaces throughout Wales,” she said. “I have heard first hand of nurses who are struggling to pay their household bills, of the extra hours they have worked for free to subsidise the NHS, the shifts they have gone without any breaks. They have told me of their constant worry and despair for the safety of their patients due to short staffing.

“This is not sustainable. Many have told me that they cannot continue in their beloved profession without change.

“The message is loud and clear. Enough is enough. It is time to take decisive action against a spiralling workforce crisis that is putting patients’ lives in danger and has no regard for nursing staff wellbeing.”