NHS Employers has criticised Unite for not providing reliable information to providers ahead of its planned strike action on 10 May.
The organisation expressed “serious concerns” that some NHS trusts have been given insufficient opportunity to plan for the industrial action which has been called by Unite in protest at proposals for NHS pension reform.
This could result in more distress for patients, with delayed hospital tests and longer waits to be discharged, it claimed.
But Unite today said the claims were not “evidence based” and criticised NHS Employers for “grabbing headlines”.
Director of NHS Employers Dean Royles said: “We have serious concerns the NHS is not being given the opportunity to plan effectively for the strikes on 10 May. At times of industrial action, the most important thing for patient safety is planning.
“Employers are telling us they have not yet received written notification on which staff will be asked to withdraw their labour with action scheduled to take place in less than two weeks.
“Unions must by law do this no later than seven days before a strike. But this is healthcare we are talking about. Employers are having to rely on patchy information from local representatives but this is not enough on which to take significant decisions about patient care.”
Around 100,000 health workers in Unite will take industrial action, including staff working in pathology, pharmacy, ambulances, and support services.
A total of 94 per cent of its members rejected the government’s pensions deal, with Unite claiming many staff would have to work until 68 and pay more to get less when they retire.
The union argues on average workers are £30 a month worse off since higher pension contributions were imposed this month.
Unite’s head of health Rachael Maskell insisted the union’s representatives were already in talks with employers about what services would be affected, as they were ahead of the previous strike on 30 November.
She added: “There is no evidence for this and it is clearly aimed at Unite. Dean Royles hasn’t picked up the phone to me to highlight any problems and I am disappointed with his statement. It seems to be about grabbing headlines.
“I do rebutt what NHS Employers has said, we are talking with trusts and have been for quite a long time.”
Ahead of the strike Unite has also called on health secretary Andrew Lansley to involve the conciliation service Acas in talks over pension reform.