NHS radiographers hold strike over pay

Radiographers on strike outside a hospital Image copyright Society of Radiographers
Image caption Staff joined picket lines outside hospitals across the UK, including in Middlesbrough

Radiographers have gone on strike over pay in the latest walkout by NHS staff.

Society of Radiographers members were on strike from 09:00-13:00 BST, and will follow a work-to-rule policy for the rest of the week. The society said urgent care would still be provided.

Thousands of NHS staff including nurses and midwives held a strike last Monday.

The Department of Health said it was "disappointed" by the radiographers' strike and said a larger pay rise would risk front-line jobs.

The strike was held across the UK due to an "ongoing pay freeze" and because the government "rejected a recommended 1% pay rise" for staff in England, the society said.

An independent pay review board proposed a 1% increase for all NHS staff but ministers decided to exclude staff who receive progression-in-the-job rises.

These, designed to reward professional development, are given to about half of staff, and are worth 3% a year on average.

The pay proposal was implemented for all NHS workers in Scotland, and Northern Ireland is yet to make a decision. Wales did the same as England but gave extra money to the lowest-paid staff.

Image copyright Society of Radiographers
Image caption Radiographers outside the Royal Marsden Hospital in London held a banner saying: "No raise = no rays"
Image copyright Society of Radiographers
Image caption Staff at Medway NHS Foundation Trust in Kent joined the strike

It is not clear how many patients will be affected but the Society of Radiographers said 400 scans and X-rays had been cancelled across Wales on Monday.

The action is the society's first UK-wide strike for more than 30 years - and it warned there was a "possibility of more action".

"The anger that they and other health professionals feel is very strong," said Richard Evans, the society's chief executive.

"Radiographers will try and keep the effect on patients to a minimum but radiographers and other health-care workers have got to the stage that they feel there is no alternative.

"Unless we show the government that we are serious about our claim that NHS staff should be treated fairly, they will continue to take advantage of our goodwill."

He also said there was a shortage of radiographers, which was already affecting patients and was likely to get worse if staff did not get "reasonable and proper recognition" of their work.

Image copyright Society of Radiographers
Image caption Some radiographers used images of skeletons in their protests

A Department of Health spokesman said: "NHS staff are our greatest asset, and we've increased the NHS budget to pay for over 12,500 more clinical staff since 2010.

"We cannot afford a pay rise in addition to increments - which disproportionately reward the highest earners - without risking front-line jobs."

Last Monday's NHS strike was also followed by four days of work-to-rule, during which staff refused to do unpaid overtime and insisted on taking their breaks.

Tens of thousands of people joined anti-austerity protests Belfast, Glasgow and London on Saturday.

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