NURSES in south Devon took part in the latest day of industrial action over pay.

Pickets were held at Torbay Hospital and in Exeter yesterday as the Royal College of Nursing staged its 28-hour walkout over pay in England. 

Amid concerns for patients, the union stressed measures had been put in place to keep patients safe.

Ending just before midnight last night, the action had been due to continue into today until the High Court ruled it unlawful. 

For the first time, the RCN strike included nursing staff in emergency departments, intensive care units, cancer care and other services which had previously been exempt from strike action. 

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the 28-hour nursing strike was ‘premature’ and ‘disrespectful’ to other unions.

The strike comes after 54 per cent of eligible members who voted in the recent ballot on the UK government’s NHS pay offer voted to reject it. 

Other health unions, including midwives, have come to agreements over pay.

RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen, speaking in the final hours of the current strike and ahead of the NHS Staff Council meeting on Tuesday, said: ‘Deep concerns over patient safety should be aired every day, not only on the day of a strike. 

‘Our action is always safe and has a belief in safe patient care at its core. 

‘Nursing staff are fighting for a stronger NHS that has enough nurses – a health service able to fill the tens of thousands of vacant jobs.

‘The government must not underestimate their resolve. 

‘The majority of our members voted to reject the deal and to keep campaigning for something better. While 28 different unions and different professions came to different, but respectable, conclusions on this pay offer.

‘The deal being accepted by others does not alter the clear fact that nursing staff, as the largest part of the NHS workforce, remain in dispute with the government over unfair pay and unsafe staffing.'