Start talking to avert health strikes later this month, says UNISON  

Ambulance crews working for five services in England – London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West – are to go on strike over pay and staffing on Wednesday 21 December, says their union UNISON today (Tuesday).  

The pre-Christmas date coincides with action being planned by two other unions – GMB and Unite – with members in ambulances services in England.  

The UNISON strike involving paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians and other 999 crew members will run from midday to midnight.   

The ambulance workers are to be joined by nurses, porters, healthcare assistants, cleaners and other NHS workers at two Liverpool hospitals, who will also take action that day.   

The strike at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and Liverpool University Hospital starts at 07.30 on Wednesday 21 December and ends 24 hours later.  

UNISON is also about to begin reballoting around 13,000 NHS staff working for ten trusts and ambulance services where turnout in the recent strike vote fell just short of the threshold required by law.  

These ten NHS employers include all the remaining ambulance services in England – West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, South East Coast and South Central.   

In addition, staff working at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Liverpool Women’s Hospital, London’s Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the North West-based Bridgewater Community Trust are being asked again to vote for strike action. UNISON members at NHS Blood and Transplant are also being reballoted.   

Commenting on the pre-Christmas strike, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “The government will only have itself to blame if there are strikes in the NHS before Christmas.   

“Ambulance staff and their health colleagues don’t want to inconvenience anyone. But ministers are refusing to do the one thing that could prevent disruption – that’s start genuine talks about pay.  

“Wages are too low to stop health workers quitting the NHS. As more and more hand in their notice, there are fewer staff left to care for patients. The public knows that’s the reason behind lengthy waits at A&E, growing ambulance delays, postponed operations and cancelled clinics.

“Threatened NHS strikes in Scotland were called off because ministers there understand higher wages and improved staffing levels go hand in hand. Unfortunately, the penny’s yet to drop for the Westminster government.”  

Senior managers in the five ambulance services and two NHS trusts are due to receive formal notification of the strike and will draw up emergency cover plans to put to the unions taking action.  

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