The NHS faces the threat of coordinated industrial action lasting several months, with results to be announced within days of strike ballots of ambulance crews and about 300,000 health workers.
Junior doctors, paramedics, midwives, porters, cleaners, pharmacy technicians and physiotherapists are being balloted across the NHS. The government now faces the threat of waves of strikes across the public sector, from nurses and firefighters to civil servants and teachers.
A ballot of 15,000 ambulance workers in England and Wales closes on Tuesday. The result of the GMB ballot could be announced as early as this week, with the prospect of the first national ambulance strike since the dispute of 1989-90, when police and army vehicles were brought in to transport patients.
The RCN said on Saturday that the health secretary Steve Barclay had written to the union asking for officials to “come back to the table” before the planned strikes. RCN chief executive Pat Cullen said any talks needed to focus on the pay deal and that the position of her members was “negotiations or nothing”.
Rachel Harrison, GMB public services national secretary, said: “Health service workers have suffered more than a decade of real-terms pay cuts, been on the frontline of a global pandemic and are now in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.
“This is as much about patient safety as it is about pay. A third of GMB ambulance workers think delays they’ve been involved with have led to the death of a patient.”
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Source: The Observer, 27 November 2022