Unite ambulance workers are the latest to join the day of mass action in just over two weeks time
February 6 is likely to see the biggest strike action the NHS has ever experienced after the Unite union announced fresh ambulance worker walkouts.
Thousands of nurses from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) were already scheduled to strike on February 6 and 7, and the GMB union announced earlier this week that its ambulance workers would join them on February 6.
On Friday morning, Unite said workers from five ambulance trusts in England and Wales would also join the strike on February 6.
Several other dates of strike action are already scheduled by ambulance workers throughout February and March.
Unite’s ambulance workers are already set to walk out next Monday as the pay row with the Government shows no sign of reaching a resolution.
It comes after thousands of nurses across England went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday this week, while around 1,000 ambulance workers in Wales also walked out on Thursday.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said of the new announcement: “Rather than act to protect the NHS and negotiate an end to the dispute, the Government has disgracefully chosen to demonise ambulance workers
“Ministers are deliberately misleading the public about the life and limb cover and who is to blame for excessive deaths.
“Our members faithfully provide life and limb cover on strike days and it’s not the unions who are not providing minimum service levels.
“It’s this Government’s disastrous handling of the NHS that has brought it to breaking point and, as crisis piles on crisis, the Prime Minister is seen to be washing his hands of the dispute.”
The escalation in industrial action comes after NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation warned of the damage to the NHS caused by prolonged disputes.
Thousands more operations and appointments will need to be cancelled over the next few months, while the loss of ambulance workers will lead to long delays or some patients getting no ambulance sent to them at all.
Speaking to broadcasters during a hospital visit earlier this week, Health Secretary Steve Barclay appeared to rule out a 10% pay rise for nurses, insisting it was “not affordable”.
“Well 10% is not affordable, it would be an extra £3.6 billion a year and obviously that would take money away from patient services, essential services that we need to invest in given the backlogs from the pandemic,” he said.
“Now, within Government we take a whole Government approach – of course I have discussions with the Treasury, as do other Secretaries of State, and these things need to be balanced not just with the needs of teachers, with the Education Secretary, or train drivers with the Transport Secretary, but also what’s affordable for your viewers in terms of their own cost-of-living pressures.”
He insisted he was working “constructively” with unions but said he was “disappointed” in the strikes.
Content provided by Radio NewsHub. Originally published on 2023-01-20 08:25:00.