The growing NHS dispute over pay and staffing will now cover ambulance services and other NHS organisations across most parts of England, says UNISON today (Friday).

Announcing its re-ballot results of thousands more health workers, UNISON says staff at another four English ambulance services and five NHS organisations, including NHS Blood and Transplant, will now be able to strike. This is a significant escalation of the dispute.

Following the re-ballot at ten NHS employers in England, the union said staff at the South Central, East of England, West Midlands and East Midlands ambulance services had voted to take industrial action.

They’ve been joined today by health workers at NHS Blood and Transplant, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the Bridgewater Community Trust.

Around 12,000 staff involved in the re-ballots can now take part in the ongoing dispute alongside their NHS colleagues at ambulance services in London, Yorkshire, the North East, North West and South West. Since the dispute over pay and staffing began in December, staff at these employers have taken strike action on four occasions, says UNISON.

NHS workers at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and two trusts in Liverpool (the University Hospitals Trust and the city’s Heart and Chest Hospital) have also had live strike mandates since last year. Between them, these NHS employees have taken three days of action.

Announcing the results of the ballot at UNISON’s annual women’s conference in Bournemouth, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: 

“It’s time the prime minister ditched his ‘do nothing’ strategy for dealing with escalating strikes across the NHS.

“Governments in other parts of the UK know what it takes to resolve disputes. Ministers in Scotland and Wales are talking to health unions and acting to boost pay for NHS staff this year.

“And Holyrood is really showing Westminster up. Health workers in Scotland have had a bigger pay rise this year and are set to get a decent wage increase in April following their government’s latest offer.

"Sadly, health workers across England have been met with a wall of silence from Number Ten. The prime minister stubbornly refuses to talk about pay, preferring to subject everyone to many months of disruption.

“The public must think the Westminster government is living on another planet. They can see how talks in other parts of the UK have lifted the threat of strikes and cannot understand why the prime minister isn’t doing the same.

“Health staff want to go back to work, and the public wants an NHS capable of delivering quality care. The prime minister must roll up his sleeves, invite the unions into Downing Street and start the genuine pay talks that could end this damaging dispute.”

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