Ambulance service workers are planning a new strike in the ongoing salary and staffing row.
The latest walkout will happen today (Monday, January 23) after the chancellor was told by unions that if he finds fresh money to pay health employees “properly,” he can stop industrial action and start addressing the staffing crisis.
However, the union Unison cautioned Jeremy Hunt that the NHS issue might last for many months if he continues to defy requests to release additional funds and launch negotiations with unions to end the strikes.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s simple, all the chancellor needs to do is find the money to pay health workers fairly.
“The public wants the government to end the dispute, and so do NHS staff, but most ministers look like they’d rather dig in and do nothing instead of boost pay and help turn the ailing NHS around.
“Higher wages would stop experienced employees leaving for better-paid jobs and encourage more people to come and work in the NHS.”
“With more staff, ambulance response times would improve, and patiently waits for treatment shorten. Everyone would be a winner.
“It’s strange that it’s the chancellor blocking progress. Jeremy Hunt knows the NHS better than anyone in the cabinet.”
Thousands of members of Unison, Unite, and the GMB will strike in England and Wales.
Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, alleged the government had a “sinister rationale” for refusing to reach an agreement with nurses to cease their strike action.
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “This employer, being the government, is not interested in doing a deal as far as the NHS is concerned.
“I have to say we are concluding now that there must be a much more sinister reason for this because this level of self-harm is unprecedented.”
Asked what the reason could be, Ms. Graham said: “I think that they are looking to privatise the NHS.”
For the third time in five weeks, up to 15,000 Unison ambulance workers will go on strike, and 5,000 of their NHS co-workers from two hospital trusts in Liverpool will join them.
Picket lines will be formed starting at 7am by paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians, other 999 crew members, and control room employees from five services in England: London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East, and South West.
At the Liverpool University Hospitals Trust and the city’s Heart and Chest Hospital, porters, cleaners, nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, theatre personnel, and other NHS employees will also walk out.
The GMB union, which represents around 1,000 ambulance employees throughout the West Midlands, including paramedics and emergency care assistants, will hold strikes.
Nurses and other NHS employees plan to strike again in the upcoming weeks.
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Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “It is hugely disappointing some ambulance workers are continuing to take industrial action.
“While we have contingency plans in place to mitigate risks to patient safety, there will inevitably be further disruption.
“It is important people continue coming forward for treatment – call 999 in life-threatening emergencies and use NHS 111 online, local pharmacies and GP services for non-life-threatening care.
“I have had constructive talks with unions about this coming year’s pay process for 2023/24, and am keen to continue talking about what is affordable and fair.”
Source: Sky News