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Public sector strike 'will hit NHS appointments'

The government has increased the pressure on unions planning strike action on Wednesday, warning that an improved offer on public sector pensions could be withdrawn. About two million workers, including teachers, street cleaners, border control staff and some health workers are due to take part.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has told the Guardian newspaper that the walkout could harden opinion and make it more difficult for union leaders to sell a deal to their members. In the NHS, thousands of operations and other appointments could be cancelled. Dean Royles, the director of NHS employers' organisation, says staffing will be similar to a weekend or bank holiday.

"Things like outpatients appointments are going to be postponed and rearranged," he told Today presenter James Naughtie. "Some minor surgery and operations will also have to be postponed, cancelled, and rearranged for people where we haven't got the staff in place to be able to do those. But if those are urgent or emergency cases that need to take place then the trade unions will be working with local employers to make sure that they're safe, patient safety is paramount at that sort of time."

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