South England ambulance staff strike in pay row

South East Coast Ambulance Service launches mental health app for staffSouth Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust and South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust staff have commenced further strike action from today (9 May) as a result of an ongoing pay dispute.

The employees, members of trade union Unite, will walk out from midday to 10pm at picket lines in Portsmouth, Hampshire and Northfleet, Kent.

Last month, various health unions accepted a government pay deal of a lump sum cash payment and 5% pay rise for this year. Members of Unite and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) rejected this offer, however, as it was lower than the current 13.5% rate of inflation.

Ambulance workers in the South East, South Central and West Midlands areas, alongside workers at Christies NHS Foundation Trust, Christies Pathology Partnership, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, and Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, took part in strike action last Tuesday, and Unite members at Guys and St Thomas’ Trust in South London and the Yorkshire Ambulance Trust went on strike last Monday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “It is disappointing some Unite members are continuing strike action this week. These strikes will put more pressure on the NHS and will be disruptive for patients.

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“Most unions on the NHS Staff Council voted to accept our pay offer and we hope the unions who choose to remain in dispute, despite many of their members also voting to accept this offer, will recognise this as a fair outcome that carries the support of their colleagues and decide it is time to bring industrial action to an end.

Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, added: “The government must reopen negotiations to ensure that a proper wage offer is made to NHS workers. We have always said that a non-consolidated lump sum for 22/23 would not cut it. The current offer does nothing to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis crippling the NHS. The strike action is part of Unite’s escalation strategy to exert greater pressure on the government.”