THOUSANDS of ambulance workers staged more strike action today as the bitter dispute over pay for overstretched NHS staff showed no sign of abating.
Nearly 2,000 paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff across north-west England downed tools for 12 hours from midday, their union GMB said.
The walkout, which followed industrial action by thousands of GMB, Unite and Unison ambulance employees on Monday, came ahead of what could be biggest-ever NHS strike on February 6, when all three unions are due to strike alongside nurses.
MORE than 25,000 ambulance workers walked out on strike today as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that it would be “lovely to wave a magic wand” and give them the pay rise they want and deserve.
His pathetic response to the mounting NHS crisis was in stark contrast to the determination and courage displayed by tens of thousands of health workers intent on winning pay justice and on defending the NHS from destruction at Tory hands.
On freezing picket lines across England and Wales, ambulance workers told their own stories of the life-saving jobs they do and the tragic, unnecessary deaths caused by the deliberate run-down of ambulance and health services in what is increasingly believed to be preparation for the Tories’ ultimate privatisation — the NHS.
Members of three unions — Unison, GMB and Unite — took strike action together.
“LIFE-and-limb cover” will be provided across the ambulance service in England and Wales today to ensure patients are not put at risk during strikes, a union leader told MPs today.
GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said that unions had been working “round the clock” to ensure there were enough strike exemptions to keep critical services running.
“Life-and-limb cover will be provided,” Ms Harrison told MPs. “The last thing that our members want to do is put patients in harm’s way.
“We will do everything within our power to ensure that communities are safe during this action.
“The government has to play their part, they have to come to the table and talk to us.”
She told MPs that ambulance workers have been forced to take strike action after raising concerns for years about ambulance delays and unsafe conditions for patients.