Ambulance workers in Liverpool will stage fresh strike action today (Janaury 23) as Unions warn the escalating dispute over pay and staffing could last for months if chancellor Jeremy Hunt doesn’t come up with a ‘fair’ settlement.
Thousands of members of Unison, Unite and the GMB will walk out across England and Wales on Monday. Up to 15,000 Unison ambulance workers will strike for the third time in five weeks and will be joined by 5,000 of their NHS colleagues at two hospital trusts in Liverpool.
From 7am, paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians, other 999 crew members and control room staff across five services in England - London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West - will join picket lines.
Porters, cleaners, nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, theatre staff and other NHS workers at the Liverpool University Hospitals Trust and the city’s Heart and Chest Hospital will also be out on strike.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The public wants the Government to end the dispute, 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.”
Monday’s walk outs come ahead of what is expected to be the biggest NHS strike action the country has ever seen. On February 6, Unite and GMB ambulance strikes will coincide with RCN nursing strikes across Merseyside and the rest of the country.
Ms McAnea said: “The solution to the growing NHS crisis is staring the Government in the face. It’s simple, all the Chancellor needs to do is find the money to pay health workers fairly.”
"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 patient waits for treatment shorten. Everyone would be a winner.
"Jeremy Hunt knows improved wages are critical to solving the NHS staffing emergency. He must come out of hiding and unlock the funding to end the strikes. Then the focus can be on nursing the NHS back to good health."
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.
"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."
Ambulance arrivals below average on strike day
New figures show that ambulance arrivals at Liverpool University Hospitals Trust A&E were below average on the last strike day earlier this month.
Around 25,000 ambulance workers from the Unison and GMB trade unions went on strike on Wednesday, January 1, with staggered walkouts staged across England and Wales.
The latest NHS England data suggests the number of ambulances arriving at A&E departments across England on January 11 was 26% below the average across the other weekdays last week.
At Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 53 ambulances arrived at A&E on January 11 – 59% below the average of 130.
The average across weekdays excluding Wednesday was used to minimise the impact of the daily fluctuations and difference in demand at the weekend.
Nationally, ambulance handover delays improved on January 11, with 6% of arrivals waiting longer than an hour, compared to 9% across the rest of the week.
Rachel Harrison, national secretary at the GMB, said: “This Government has left our NHS so broken that performance actually improved on strike day.
“Instead of praising them, this Government has demonised them and pushed through a fresh attack on workers’ rights. They are scaremongering and playing political games – they need to talk pay now.”