Ambulance workers in England have voted to strike for the first time in 30 years adding pressure on the NHS with nurses and other NHS staff preparing their industrial action in December.
Paramedics, ambulance technicians and 999 call handlers are set to strike before Christmas over pay and staffing levels, Unison announced on Tuesday (Nov 29) night.
Not every NHS trust will be impacted as the 50% turnout threshold was not met in all the areas where ballots were held. Unions must give at least two weeks notice ahead of industrial action before strike
Unison said that 80,000 of its members voted to strike and on Wednesday the largest union for ambulance staff, GMB will announce the results of their strike ballot. It is expected to be overwhelmingly in favour of action.
Military yet to be called-up to cover ambulance strike
Ambulance have workers rejected a 4% pay offer and Unison’s general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The decision to take action and lose a day’s pay is always a tough call. It’s especially challenging for those whose jobs involve caring and saving lives.
“But thousands of ambulance staff and their NHS colleagues know delays won’t lessen, nor waiting times reduce, until the government acts on wages. That’s why they’ve taken the difficult decision to strike.”
McAnea said patients “will always come first” and reassured that emergency cover will be provided during any strike.
“But unless NHS pay and staffing get fixed, services and care will continue to decline,” warned McAnea.
“The public knows health services won’t improve without huge increases in staffing and wants the government to pay up to save the NHS. It’s high time ministers stopped using the pay review body as cover for their inaction.”
McAnea called on the chancellor Jeremy Hunt, prime minister Rishi Sunak and health secretary Steve Barclay to “roll up their sleeves” and begin negotiations with unions to “turn the NHS around” by providing better pay for NHS staff.
The Telegraph reports that the Department of Health and Social Care “has yet to apply to use military aid” to help cover for the ambulance strike.
Nurses strike confirmed
Up to 100,000 nurses in 76 locations will strike before Christmas at hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the RCN confirmed on Tuesday night.
Strike action in Scotland has been postponed after the devolved government at Holyrood began negotiations with the Royal College of Nursing.
Nursing staff in all of Northern Ireland’s six NHS trusts will strike with staff in six out of seven of Wales’ health boards and 47 of England’s 219 NHS trusts set to strike.
Some trusts did not meet the legal threshold for action. The RCN assured that emergency care will be preserved and said the failure of government ministers to negotiate about pay and conditions has forced their members to strike.
Strikes will be held for 12 hours on December 15 and 20. It will be the biggest action ever staged by the RCN and the first national strike in its 106 year history.