Further NHS strikes expected this month as row over pay continues
Members of union GMB, some of whom work for the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), have said that if progress is not made in the campaign they will stage a 48-hour strike from noon on Thursday, January 29 until noon on January 31.
NHS hospital staff will also engage in a 12-hour stoppage January 29 from 9am to 9pm in NHS (Hospitals). This will be followed with a 24-hour strike on Tuesday, February 24, to commence at a time not yet confirmed.
In addition, periods of action short of a strike are also expected to be carried out in the New Year, meaning that normal behaviours, such as goodwill and flexibility over working hours, will be suspended.
The industrial action follows the Government’s refusal of a 1 per cent payrise for NHS staff in the next financial year. The Government has said it cannot afford the increase in pay without putting front line NHS jobs at risk.
Unions decided not to take strike action over Christmas and New Year period as this could have a serious impact on patient safety.
Ambulance chairman at GMB, Steve Rice, said: “I have worked for the ambulance service for almost four decades and in this time I have worked under 17 Secretaries of State for Health.
“Never have I experienced staff morale at such a breaking point and that is why the GMB is calling an urgent meeting to discuss the details of a potential two-day stoppage across the ambulance service.
“Escalation is always a last resort but in the absence of any real talks from government or employers we have nowhere else to go.
“Our A&E's are in a crisis and we took the responsible position by not striking over Christmas.
“This goodwill will not continue in the New Year. GMB members expect the current Secretary of State for Health to engage in meaningful talks to settle this dispute.
“NHS staff are the backbone of the NHS and whilst the pay recommendation by the independent pay review body didn't go far enough it cannot be just dismissed by the Secretary State for Health.”