Thousands of ambulance workers set to walk out over pay dispute in fresh strike

6 December 2022, 12:08 | Updated: 6 December 2022, 12:41

The ambulance worker union called for Steve Barclay to negotiate
The ambulance worker union called for Steve Barclay to negotiate. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Will Taylor

Thousands of ambulance workers across England and Wales will go on strike later this month over a pay dispute.

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They will walk out along with other NHS staff on December 21, unions have announced.

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff will also take part in action on December 28.

More than 10,000 staff across nine trusts are due to take part in the strikes - the latest to be called for December in the UK - as one union warned of a "winter of NHS strikes".

They are angry at the Government’s offer of a 4% pay rise at a time of soaring inflation, which unions said would amount to a "massive" wage cut in real terms.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, called on health secretary Steve Barclay to negotiate to avoid a strike.

"Ambulance workers – like other NHS workers – are on their knees," she said.

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"Demoralised and downtrodden, they’ve faced twelve years Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, fought on the frontline of a global pandemic and now face the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.

"No one in the NHS takes strike action lightly – today shows just how desperate they are.

"This is as much about unsafe staffing levels and 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.

"Something has to change or the service as we know it will collapse. GMB calls on the Government to avoid a Winter of NHS strikes by negotiating a pay award that these workers deserve."

Her members will walk out at:

  • South West Ambulance Service
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • South Central Ambulance Service
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • East Midlands Ambulance Service
  • West Midlands Ambulance Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Speaking last week, Mr Barclay said ambulance pay demands were not affordable.

"I deeply regret some ambulance staff will be taking industrial action – this is in nobody’s best interests as winter approaches," he said on November 30.

"Economic circumstances mean unions demands are not affordable - each additional 1% pay rise for non-medical staff would cost around £700m a year.

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"My door is open to discuss with unions ways we can make the NHS a better place to work.

"Our priority is keeping patients safe during any strikes and the NHS has tried and tested plans to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate."

Nurses, rail workers, and postal staff have all called strikes somewhere in the UK as union members fear for their livelihoods thanks to inflation.

The Public and Commercial Services union, which represents civil servants, is planning strikes in a bid to secure a 10% pay rise.