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NHS faces biggest ever strike as unions announce February walkout

Ambulance workers from Unite and GMB unions will join nurses in walking out on 6 February unless government agrees to pay talks

Ambulance workers from Unite and GMB unions will join nurses in walking out on 6 February, unless government agrees to pay talks

The NHS is facing its biggest staff walkout in history on 6 February, after more health unions announced strike action on the same day as nurses.

Thousands of RCN members were already due to strike on 6 and 7 February, with the GMB union also announcing earlier this week that its ambulance workers would join nurses on 6 February. Now, Unite has said workers from five ambulance trusts in England and Wales will walk out on the same day.

Ambulance workers set to join picket lines in February

Ambulance workers from Unite and GMB unions will join nurses in walking out on 6 February, unless government agrees to pay talks

Nurses on the picket line at Royal Sussex Hospital, Brighton
Nurses on the picket line at Royal Sussex Hospital, Brighton Picture: David Smith/Alamy Live News

The NHS is facing its biggest staff walkout in history on 6 February, after more health unions announced strike action on the same day as nurses.

Thousands of RCN members were already due to strike on 6 and 7 February, with the GMB union also announcing earlier this week that its ambulance workers would join nurses on 6 February. Now, Unite has said workers from five ambulance trusts in England and Wales will walk out on the same day.

Ambulance workers set to join picket lines in February

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Ministers are deliberately misleading the public about the life and limb cover, and who is to blame for excessive deaths. It’s this government’s disastrous handling of the NHS that has brought it to breaking point. And as crisis piles on crisis, the prime minister is seen to be washing his hands of the dispute.’

The annoucement from Unite comes after nurses in England staged a two-day strike this week in a bitter dispute over poor pay, working conditions and patient safety concerns. There were chants of ‘claps don’t pay the bills’ and ‘1, 2, 3, 4, we can’t take it any more, 5 ,6, 7, 8, come on Rishi, negotiate,’ as nursing staff took to picket lines in their droves.

Nursing students told Nursing Standard they had been driven to tears because of the staffing crisis, while experienced nurses compared working in the NHS to being in a war zone.

Frustration grows over government’s refusal to negotiate

Nurses’ dispute with the government shows no sign of reaching a resolution, despite the RCN offering to pause strike action if ministers come to the table to discuss pay.

Meanwhile, health leaders said further strikes would make an already difficult situation in the NHS even harder. They warned trust leaders were facing ‘the most challenging day of their careers’ on 6 February.

‘Nobody wants these strikes to happen, but it’s clear that staff feel they have been driven to this,’ said NHS Providers director of policy and strategy Miriam Deakin. ‘It’s absolutely imperative that the government sit down with the unions immediately to resolve this by talking about pay for this financial year.’

The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.


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