The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Northern Ireland have commenced the second day of strike action.
Nurses are joining picket lines to demand urgent measures to address unsafe staffing levels and deliver pay parity.
The Western Trust anticipates some disruption to services during the 12 hour strike period.
Over 250 outpatient appointments have been postponed across the Trust area and a number of treatment rooms are closed at GP surgeries, including Great James Steet, Strabane ,Claudy, Dungiven and Waterside treatment rooms.
There will be a reduced level of district nursing service and rapid response nursing provided across the Trust, similar to public holiday cover, and a number of school vaccination clinics have been rescheduled.
All affected patients have been contacted directly by the Western Trust.
Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, Pat Cullen, said that for a second time in a matter of weeks members ‘have been left with no choice but to take strike action’.
“There are nearly 2800 nursing posts unfilled in Northern Ireland. This means that for every eight nurses working here, one is missing. This situation has been made worse by the fact that since 2014 nurses in Northern Ireland have been paid less than in England, Scotland and Wales, making it even more difficult to recruit new nursing staff and retain the nurses we already have.
“Last week we had over 400 people waiting in our emergency departments, some for over 48 hours. In one of our main hospitals 96 patients were waiting on trolleys and critically ill patients, with the most serious illnesses, were not being able to access intensive care units. These are the very reasons why action needs to be taken urgently and why we simply cannot afford to keep waiting.”
She said that in response to this, emergency departments and intensive care units have been exempted from strike action.
“It is clear that people in Northern Ireland are not getting the care and treatment they need.
“Today, our members in Northern Ireland are making clear to those in power that they and their patients will not be ignored. We all wish to see a rapid solution to this crisis. However, this will not be secured by trying to blame nurses for the consequences of the decisions made by those in power.”
There is further strike action planned for Friday, January 10.