Thousands of NHS ambulance workers will go on strike once more, with four more dates announced today.
Union GMB announced that up to 10,000 of its members, including paramedics and 999 call handlers, will walk off the job on February 6, February 20 and then again on March 6 and 20.
His next action episode will coincide with a nurses’ strike, causing chaos among tens of thousands of patients.
The GMB action will affect most ambulance services in England and will also take place across Wales.
The Royal College of Nursing will hold their wage strikes today and tomorrow, as well as on February 6 and 7. He will join Unison in five ambulance services on January 23. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy will also organize a strike on January 26 and February 9.
It is the latest blow in the bitter dispute between the SNS unions and the Government over wages, with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) holding its own strike today and tomorrow.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, said: ‘The GMB ambulance workers are angry. In his own words “they are done”.’
‘Our message to the Government is clear: let’s talk about payment now.
“Ministers have made matters worse by demonizing ambulance workers who provided life and limb coverage on strike days, playing political games with their scaremongering.
‘The only way to resolve this dispute is a proper payment offer.
“But it seems that the cold, dead hands of 10 and 11 Downing Street are preventing this from happening.”
He added that due to the government’s ‘inaction’, the union had been forced to take labor action.
“The GMB ambulance workers are determined, they are not going to back down,” he said.
‘It is up to this government to take wages seriously. We are waiting.’
The complete list of services for the February and March strike dates includes: Southwest Ambulance Service; Southeast Coast Ambulance Service; North West Ambulance Service; South Central Ambulance Service; North East Ambulance Service; East Midlands Ambulance Service; the Welsh Ambulance Service; and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
In addition, GMB members of the West Midlands Ambulance Service will go on strike on January 23, followed by those of the North West Ambulance Service on January 24.
Category One: Where are ambulance response times worst?
As of December 2022, the national average response time for a Category One call, for people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, such as people experiencing cardiac arrest, was 10 minutes and 57 seconds.
Average category one response times by region were:
Southwest: 13 minutes, 11 seconds
East of England: 11 minutes, 54 seconds
Yorkshire: 11 minutes, 19 seconds
Southeast coast: 11 minutes, 2 seconds
South Central: 10 minutes, 55 seconds
Isle of Wight: 10 minutes, 55 seconds
Eastern Midlands: 10 minutes, 54 seconds
London: 10 minutes, 34 seconds
Northwest: 9 minutes, 58 seconds
West Midlands: 9 minutes, 14 seconds
Northeast: 8 minutes, 51 seconds
The Unison ambulance union is also scheduled to strike five ambulance services on January 23.
And another NHS union representing ambulance workers, Unite, will announce more strike dates today.
The GMB strike on February 6 also coincides with another round of RCN strikes in England and will mark the first time both sets of staff have walked off the job on the same day.
As with other strike days, the unions are expected to agree to provide cover for the most life-threatening emergencies.
The union’s announcement of new strike dates comes after some 25,000 ambulance service members from both GMB and Unison walked off the job on January 11.
Union bosses argue that a pay increase is needed to retain and attract staff to work in NHS ambulance services.
This, they claim, will help stop worsening emergency response times and inhumane delays in ambulance delivery.
But No10 has accused unions of leaving the public ‘terrified’ that an ambulance will not arrive if needed during strikes, with no nationally agreed standards on the minimum staff required to keep Britons safe.
Responding to the GMB announcement, NHS Providers interim chief executive Saffron Cordery said: “Four more days of strikes by GMB ambulance staff will deal another blow to already overstretched health services.”
“We understand the strength of feelings among NHS staff and no one wants these strikes to happen.”
He asked the government to sit down with the unions urgently to negotiate a wage agreement.
“Trusts plan and prepare for industry action to support staff and do everything possible to minimize the impact on patients and on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
“But with incredibly high levels of emergency assistance and delays in the discharge of patients from hospital beds severely hampering overstretched ambulance services, things are likely to get worse if these strikes continue.”
The ongoing dispute between the ambulance unions and the government has led to personnel from the Armed Forces being called in to drive emergency vehicles. Pictured are army personnel outside Wellington Barracks in London on Wednesday.
The dispute began in November when unions voted to strike over 4 percent government pay for NHS staff last year.
The GMB has said it wants a “return deal” for its members to restore “a decade of lost profits and a retention package that adequately rewards existing staff.”
The Government claims that, after receiving a pay increase of at least 4 per cent, most ambulance staff have their average basic salary of £34,300.
The unions, however, say the basic salary for a call manager is no more than £23,000.
The Government’s own website says the starting salary for a paramedic is £25,655.
However, more experienced doctors earn more, as is the case in most medical fields.
The ongoing dispute has seen the Army called in to drive ambulances on strike days, with ministers admonishing Britons to use “common sense” and avoid risky activities that could result in the need for a trip to hospital.
But even without strikes, NHS ambulance response times have deteriorated dangerously over the past 12 months.
The most recent data, which includes a day of strike action, shows that it took paramedics more than 90m, on average, to reach category two calls, which include emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes.
This is five times the NHS average target for such emergencies of 18 minutes.
But in some of the hardest-hit parts of the country, these patients had to wait up to six and a half hours before doctors arrived.
Ambulances were also taking longer than ever to handle the most life-threatening calls, such as cardiac arrests.
In England, average response times were almost 11 minutes, compared to the NHS target of 7 minutes.