Unison ambulance workers are said to be staging two new strikes over pay and staff disputes (Image: Staff)
Unison ambulance workers are said to be staging two new strikes over pay and staff disputes.
Union members in five ambulance services in England – including the Yorkshire Ambulance Service – will resign on January 11 and 23.
The strike will affect Yorkshire, London, the North West, North East and South West and follows actions by members of three ambulance unions on Wednesday.
Unison said the new strikes were a direct result of the Government’s “repeated refusal” to negotiate NHS pay improvements this year.
The strikes in January each last 24 hours from midnight to midnight and will affect all ambulance workers, not just the 999 emergency crews as was the case on Wednesday.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay enraged union leaders on Wednesday by saying they had made a “conscious choice” to harm people.
Many of the services’ workers are likely to be exempted from action under contingency plans prepared locally by each ambulance employer in conjunction with Unison, the union said.
Unison Secretary General Christina McAnea said: “Only through talks can this dispute be ended. No health worker wants to go on strike again in the new year.
“But accusing NHS staff of making a conscious decision to harm the public by taking action this week was not the Health Secretary’s finest hour.
“It was also not a particularly smart move by Steve Barclay to falsely accuse healthcare unions of not having presented a national emergency plan. The Secretary of State was well aware that local ambulance managers and unions were making arrangements to cover life and limb.
“It’s time Steve Barclay stopped the insults and lies and got unions involved in proper talks about improving NHS pay.
“The acceleration of the payroll review body next year will not resolve the current dispute over the pathetic amount the government has allocated to health workers this year.
“The government must stop using the Payroll Verification Service as a cover for its own inaction. This year’s pay rise simply wasn’t enough to stop the brain drain from the NHS.
“The government should correct this mistake with an increase more in line with inflation. Only then will vacancy rates come down and allow the NHS to get back on track and start delivering safe patient care again.”
After the bank holiday break, the union will start asking around 13,000 workers in 10 English NHS trusts if they are ready to go on strike in the spring.
Because the turnout in the last ballot, the results of which were announced last month, was just below the legally prescribed threshold.
This covers all of England’s remaining five Ambulance Services – West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, South East Coast and South Central. There will also be a re-election of staff working for the Welsh Ambulance Service.
Unison health workers employed at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Liverpool Women’s Hospital, London’s Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and North West-based Bridgewater Community Trust are being asked to vote again.
There will also be a re-vote from Unison members who work for the NHS blood and transplant service.
Saffron Cordery, interim CEO of NHS Providers, said: “Today’s announcement of two more strike dates by a wider range of ambulance workers in January will add even more pressure to the already challenging situation following strike action by nurses and ambulance staff earlier in the week.
“We have already experienced significant disruptions to patient care as thousands of appointments have been rescheduled or canceled, with the effects of this week’s strike action likely to be felt for days to come.
“And we know that the rescue workers don’t want to go on strike either, but feel compelled to take this step.
“The possibility of further escalation in action and prolonged, coordinated strikes by more health unions in January in the absence of talks – including on pay – is incredibly worrying.
“There are no winners in this situation. Serious talks need to be had between health ministers and unions, and fast.”