Ambulance workers stage final strike as Hunt urged to fund ‘fair’ pay deal

Ambulance workers will go on another strike Monday amid escalating dispute over pay and staff.

It came after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was told that if he found new money to pay “fairly” to healthcare workers he could halt industrial action and begin solving the staff emergency.

But Unison warned Mr Hunt that the NHS dispute could drag on for months if he continues to resist calls to free up extra cash and start negotiations with unions to end strikes.

Thousands of Unison, Unite and GMB members will march in England and Wales on Monday.

Nearly 15,000 Unison ambulance workers will go on strike for the third time in five weeks, joining 5,000 NHS colleagues at two hospital trusts in Liverpool.

Christina McAneastrike

Unison general secretary, Christina McAnea, urged the Chancellor to find the extra money needed to pay and resolve the dispute (PA)

From 7am, paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians, 999 other crew members and control room staff from five UK services (London, Yorkshire, North West, North East and South West) will join the strike lines.

Porters, cleaners, nurses, midwives, paramedics, theater staff and other NHS workers at Liverpool University Hospitals Trust and the city’s Heart and Chest Hospital will also go on strike.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The solution to the growing NHS crisis is in the eyes of the Government. It’s simple, all the Chancellor has to do is find the money to pay the healthcare workers fairly.

“The public wants the Government to end the conflict, so do NHS staff, but most ministers seem to prefer to dig and do nothing rather than increase salaries and help turn the ailing NHS around.

“Higher wages will discourage experienced workers from going to better-paying jobs and will encourage more people to come and work in the NHS.

“With more staff, ambulance response times improve and the patient waits for treatment. Everyone would be a winner.

“It’s strange that the Chancellor is blocking progress. Jeremy Hunt knows the NHS better than anyone in the Cabinet.

“As health secretary, she negotiated the pay deal to end the 2015 NHS strike and pushed for fair pay when she became chair of the Health Select Committee. But as Chancellor he chose to forget all that.

jeremy hunt

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been accused of ‘blocking progress’ in a salary deal to end the NHS dispute (PA).

“Jeremy Hunt knows that rising wages are critical to solving the NHS staff emergency. To end the strikes he must come out of hiding and unlock the funding. Then the focus may be on getting the NHS back to health.

Across the West Midlands, nearly 1,000 ambulance workers in the GMB union will go on strike, including paramedics and emergency care workers.

Stuart Richards, GMB’s senior organizer, said: “The message from the West Midlands ambulance workers is clear – the government must talk about the payment now.

“We have been waiting two weeks today for another meeting with ministers as the NHS is falling apart in our ears despite the desperate efforts of ambulance workers.

“Instead of working to solve problems, this Government has demonized ambulance workers who protect their limbs on strike days.

“A suitable payment offer is the only way to resolve this dispute. We are waiting.”

Further strikes by nurses and other NHS workers are planned in the coming weeks.

Steve Barclay, Minister of Health and Social Care, said: “It is deeply disappointing that some ambulance workers continue to take industrial action. While we have contingency plans to mitigate risks to patient safety, there will inevitably be more interruptions.

“It’s important that people keep coming for treatment – in life-threatening emergencies call 999 and use NHS 111 online, local pharmacies and GP services for non-life-threatening care.

“I’ve had constructive discussions with unions about the payout process for 2023/24 next year, and I want to continue to talk about what is affordable and fair.”

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