NHS staff to pull out of pay review system amid fresh wave of strikes
Paramedics, call handlers, drivers and technicians from the Unison and GMB unions were taking part in staggered strikes across a 24-hour period from Wednesday.
Fourteen healthcare unions, representing more than a million NHS staff, said they will not submit evidence to the NHS pay review body for its upcoming settlement while strikes go unresolved, and instead have called for direct pay talks with ministers.
Doctors’ leaders are due to meet with the Health Secretary today after a meeting yesterday was cancelled so that the Minister could do media interviews.
Steve Barclay said he was due to speak to unions yesterday to discuss industrial relations, but the British Medical Association (BMA) said the Health Secretary had cancelled the talks.
The BMA said that Mr Barclay had told the BBC that he was meeting with doctors late that day, but had in reality cancelled talks beforehand.
“Actually he cancelled the 9am meeting we agreed so he could do media, and a further meeting is not yet agreed,” it said.
The union later confirmed the meeting had been rescheduled for this morning.
A Department of Health and Social Care official said that the BMA had been offered several alternative times to meet yesterday.
Around 45,000 members of the British Medical Association were balloted on the prospect of strike action on Monday, with the result due at the end of February.
The BMA has told the Government that if there is a yes vote, junior doctors will begin their action with a 72-hour “full walkout” in March.
Junior doctors will not provide emergency care during any strike, the BMA has said, adding trusts will need to arrange emergency cover to ensure patient safety.
The strike action comes as the NHS continues to operate under extreme pressure during the winter, with the Government urged to do more to improve the situation for patients and staff.
Paramedics yesterday described patients being left on floors for hours and “horrendous” waits to hand people to A&E staff, as they stood on picket lines for the latest strike day in a pay dispute.
Jenny Giblin, 38, a paramedic, said on the picket line: “I’ve been a paramedic for seven years and it’s definitely got worse.
“We used to have to queue outside hospitals at certain times, like with winter pressures, but now it’s every day. Corridors are almost like wards.
“Sometimes you spend a whole shift on a corridor.
“It’s demoralising. I dread coming into work sometimes because I know what’s going to happen.”
On Tuesday the Government unveiled its new legislation to bring in minimum safe levels of service and staffing for areas such as the emergency services, prompting outrage from unions.
However legal experts have claimed that the Government’s new laws are unlikely to work because employers will not want to sack their staff over industrial action.