NHS set for biggest ever strike as ambulance workers and nurses to walk out on same day - how Merseyside will be affected

The NHS will see members of three unions walk out on February 6.

Next month could see the biggest NHS strike action this country has ever seen. Unite have announced that ambulance workers will stage a series of walk outs, coinciding with GMB ambulance strikes and RCN nursing strikes.

Unite members of North West Ambulance Service will undertake industrial action on February 6 and 22, and March 20.

The Royal College of Nursing were already set for further strike action on February 6 and 7 and GBM announced earlier this week that its ambulance workers would be striking too on February 6.

Nurses and ambulance workers are embroiled in industrial action in a dispute over pay, working conditions and patient safety.

In reponse to the wave of walk outs, from a host of sectors, that have hit the country recently, the government are currently attempting to push through a Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, that would restrict the right to strike.

The so called ‘anti-strike’ bill would impose ‘minimum service levels’ and give employers increased powers to sack workers who refused to reject the picket line.

Critics say the bill is being used to divert attention from a lack of negotiations with unions and argue that workers in the NHS already provide a minimum level of service during times of industrial action.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “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. What a disgrace. What an abdication of leadership.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Ambulance workers do an incredible job and it is disappointing some union members are going ahead with further strikes at a time when the NHS is already under huge pressure from Covid, flu and tackling the backlog.

“The Health and Social Care Secretary is continuing to have constructive discussions with unions about the 2023/24 pay review process and what is affordable and fair."

Ambulance workers strike in Birkenhead. Image: Emma Dukes

RCN nursing strike

Members of the Royal College of Nursing will walk out on February 6 and 7, in their third round of strike action.

Although it hasn’t yet been announced which Merseyside trusts will be striking, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust all took part in the second phase, so it is unlikely they will be striking.

RCN strike, 2023: Nurses stand in the icy weather outside Arrowe Park Hospital.

Full list of hospital trusts in Liverpool City Region that voted for strike action:

  • Alder Hey Childrens NHS Foundation Trust
  • Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Found Trust
  • Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool Womens NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB
  • North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust
  • St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Found Trust
  • The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
  • Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Ambulance strikes

Members of Unite and Unison will undertake strike action on January 23, affecting emergency service workers at hospitals in Liverpool and across Merseyside.

GMB and Unite ambulance workers will also strike on February 6 and major disruption is expected, coinciding with RCN strikes.

On days of strike action, the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is asking the public to call 999 only in life-threatening situations and to use 111 services online, rather than by telephone.

According to NWAS, life-threatening conditions or emergencies include: cardiac arrest, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, continuous fits, allergic reactions and serious head injuries.