A dozen appointments were rescheduled at Gateshead Health as a result of the nurses' strike this week, new figures show.
NHS leaders warned strike action is making it “more difficult” for the health service to tackle the backlog of care as thousands of acute care appointments across the country were cancelled during the Royal College of Nursing's 28-hour strike.
NHS England figures shows 12 appointments in acute care were rescheduled on May 1 and 2 at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust because of the nurses' strikes.
They were all outpatient appointments.
Charlotte McArdle, NHS England’s deputy chief nurse, said despite extensive efforts to limit disruption, the recent industrial action had a very significant impact for patients and staff.
She added: “Across the NHS we have now seen more than half a million appointments and procedures rescheduled over the last six months as a result of strikes from staff in a range of NHS roles – and with each strike, it is becoming harder.
“Our staff are doing all they possibly can to manage the disruption and deliver rescheduled appointments as quickly as possible, but there’s no doubt that each round of industrial action makes it more difficult for the NHS to tackle the backlog.”
Across England, at least 7,600 appointments were cancelled and rescheduled in acute care as a result of the 28-hour strike.
Out of 136 NHS trusts, only 44 recorded appointments needing to be rescheduled.
The data also shows at least 5,000 staff joined picket lines on May 1, but many hospitals did not report workforce figures so the number is likely much higher.
At Gateshead Health, 62 staff members were recorded as absent on May 1 due to strike action.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay warned the RCN the deal which most unions accepted was the “final offer”. However, the union vowed to ballot members later this month and warned strikes could take place across all of NHS England between June and December.
The Government is currently offering a 5% pay rise plus a one-off sum of at least £1,655.
An RCN spokesperson said the impact on patients is the "hardest part" and added nursing staff are apologetic about the individual patients affected.
"We are taking this action, however, because everyday nursing staff and patients are suffering as staff shortages affect patient safety," they added: “Patients and the public know that and their support is appreciated and not taken for granted."
They said the campaign has “always been about patients and a safe NHS".
“The Government will never tackle the backlog without nursing staff nor fill the record number of unfilled nurse jobs without paying them fairly.”