NHS staff to strike in new year

NHS workers on strike Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption NHS workers went out on strike earlier this year

There will be a fresh wave of strikes across the NHS in England in new year, it has been announced.

NHS workers, including nurses and porters, will strike for 12 hours on 29 January and again on 25 February.

Staff from 12 unions have already taken strike action in October and November this year as part of a long-running dispute over pay.

Meanwhile, ambulance staff in England and Northern Ireland are considering a two-day walk out on 29-30 January.

Ministers in England have awarded NHS staff a 1% increase, but only for those without automatic progression-in-the-job rises.

Automatic pay rises are given to about half of all staff. They are designed to reward professional development and are worth 3% a year on average.

An independent pay review board had said the 1% increase should be across the board.

Further action

Unison announced that its NHS members in England will walk out for 12 hours from 09:00 GMT on 29 January.

They will then work-to-rule between 30 January and 24 February during which they will work only their contracted hours, take all breaks and do no unpaid overtime.

Unison said this would be followed by a 24-hour strike on 25 February.

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, said: "Our members' pay has been frozen or held down for the past five years and there is no end in sight. On average, they have lost around 10% in the value of their pay over the life of this parliament.

"We now have no option but to escalate and plan for longer strikes."

The GMB says it is holding urgent talks to consider a two-day strike in the ambulance service in England and Northern Ireland on 29 and 30 January.

Rehana Azam, the NHS national officer for the GMB, said: "It is regrettable that GMB has no alternative but to escalate the strike action in the NHS.

"The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, is acting irresponsibly with a continued entrenched position by not engaging in any meaningful talks with the health unions.

"Further stoppages across the NHS are inevitable should Jeremy Hunt continue to refuse to hold discussions to settle the pay dispute, a dispute created by him when he dismissed an independent pay review body's recommendation for NHS staff pay."

A spokesperson from the Department of Health spokesperson said the news of forthcoming strikes was disappointing.

"NHS staff are our greatest asset and we want to make the current pay system fairer - which is why we have put forward proposals that would guarantee all staff would get at least a 1% pay rise this year and next, but these have been rejected by the unions.

"We have taken tough decisions to increase the NHS budget, but we can't afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking 10,000 frontline jobs."

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