NHS staff set for second week of strike action

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NHS staff in Calderdale are set for a second week of strike action over pay.

The GNB union has today (Friday) announced the seven-day national industrial action, which will see workers walk out for a four hour period - 7am to 11am - on Monday, November 24.

The four-hour stoppage will be followed by action short of a strike from 11.01am on Monday to 11.59pm on Sunday, November, with an overtime ban in the ambulance service and other NHS employees working to their contracted hours.

Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer, said: We regret having to inconvenience NHS users again, but the intransigence of the Government and employers leaves us no choice.

“We are open to talks but the Health Secretary still refuses to meet the unions. This is not the way to go about dispute resolution. We’ve managed to get a settlement in Wales in part because the Welsh Government was prepared to enter into dialogue. Jeremy Hunt needs to get round the table and make more money available for a settlement.

“This dispute arose when the Government overruled the independent NHS Pay Review Body, which had recommended an across-the-board pay rise. Health workers have already endured several years of pay freezes and caps. They are understandably angry and frustrated at the cavalier way they have been treated.

“The planned action will undoubtedly cause widespread disruption to NHS services. However, we have sent formal notification of this action to all affected NHS employers so that they can work out essential cover requirements to ensure patient safety.

“GMB has agreed at regional level with Ambulance Services that life-threatening and certain other categories of call (such as renal dialysis and Oncology patients) will be responded to by GMB ambulance crews during the forthcoming dispute in the NHS. In addition, GMB has agreed that the major and hazardous incident team will remain on duty in case a major incident occurs.”

A GNB spokesperson said an official ballot of 22,000 members in the NHS in England and Northern Ireland resulted in “overwhelming support for industrial action”.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has issued a safety warning ahead of the strike and said it was committed to keeping the level of disruption to a minimum. And although its emergency ambulance service would still be operating, there will be a delay in response.

Ian Brandwood, the Trust’s Executive Director of Human Resources, said: “We, along with the trade unions, are keen to ensure that we continue to provide a safe service to our local communities and we are working together to ensure this is achieved.

“Although our focus is on ensuring attendance at the most serious and life-threatening 999 calls, we will have a reduced workforce and there is likely to be some disruption to the emergency service and our response times could be extended.”

The Trust’s Interim Executive Director of Operations Dr David Macklin said the service will be working hard to prioritise incidents according to urgent clinical need.

He said: “We will be carrying out additional clinical assessment over the telephone using doctors and senior clinicians in our 999 Emergency Operations Centres to prioritise those most in need.

“Members of the public can play a big part in ensuring that those who need an emergency ambulance response get one and it’s vital that people only call 999 for an ambulance when it is a life-threatening or serious illness or injury. Anyone requiring advice or treatment for a non-emergency situation or minor ailment should consider options such as self-care, a visit to a local pharmacist, GP surgery or walk-in centre, or NHS 111.”