Ambulance workers and other NHS staff to go on strike just before Christmas
Thousands of ambulance workers and other NHS staff are to strike just days before Christmas, it has been announced.
Staff will go on strike on December 21 in a dispute over pay, the GMB, Unison and Unite unions announced.
The coordinated walkout by the three main ambulance unions, will affect non-life threatening calls only.
But it could mean people who have had trips and falls are not being responded to.
It comes as Royal College of Nursing members are also preparing to go on strike on 15 and 20 December in parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The walkouts will involve paramedics as well as control room staff and support workers, with the military on standby to help out.
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Large numbers of its members had voted to take industrial action following a long-running dispute over pay and staffing levels.
The only service which will be completely unaffected, however, is the East of England.
The full extent of the cover striking staff will provide has yet to be decided – detailed negotiations will take place between local ambulance bosses and unions ahead of the walkout.
Under trade union rules, life-preserving care has to be provided so the two highest category calls – covering everything from heart attacks and strokes to major trauma – will still be responded to.
The escalation of the pay row raging across the NHS comes after the government failed to commit to formal negotiations with the trade union.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘The decision to take action and lose a day’s pay is always a tough call. It’s especially challenging for those whose jobs involve caring and saving lives.
‘But thousands of ambulance staff and their NHS colleagues know delays won’t lessen, nor waiting times reduce, until the government acts on wages. That’s why they’ve taken the difficult decision to strike.’
She added that, despite the strikes, patients will ‘always come first’ and emergency cover will be available.
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