The chancellor can halt escalating strike action and begin solving the staffing emergency currently causing the NHS such harm if he comes up with new money to pay health workers fairly, says UNISON today (Monday).
But if Jeremy Hunt continues to resist appeals to release extra cash and kickstart talks with unions to end the strikes, the NHS dispute could run for many months, says the union.
This warning comes as up to 15,000 UNISON ambulance workers walk out later today for the third time in five weeks over pay and staffing, says UNISON. They’ll be joined by as many as 5,000 of their NHS colleagues at two hospital trusts in Liverpool.
From 7am, paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians, other 999 crew members and control room staff across five services in England – London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West – will start to join picket lines at various times today.
Porters, cleaners, nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, theatre staff and other NHS workers at the Liverpool University Hospitals Trust and the city’s Heart and Chest Hospital will also be out on strike.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The solution to the growing NHS crisis is staring the government in the face. It’s simple, all the chancellor needs to do is find the money to pay health workers fairly.
“The public wants the government to end the dispute, so do NHS staff. But most ministers look like they’d rather dig in and do nothing, instead of boost pay and help turn the ailing NHS around.
“Higher wages would stop experienced employees leaving for better paid jobs and encourage more people to come and work in the NHS. With more staff, ambulance response times would improve, and patient waits for treatment shorten. Everyone would be a winner.
“It’s strange that it’s the chancellor blocking progress. Jeremy Hunt knows the NHS better than anyone in the cabinet.
“As health secretary, he negotiated the wage deal to end the 2015 NHS strike and pushed for fair pay when health select committee chair. But as chancellor he’s chosen to forget all that.
“Jeremy Hunt knows improved wages are critical to solving the NHS staffing emergency. He must come out of hiding and unlock the funding to end the strikes. Then the focus can be on nursing the NHS back to good health.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON members in the five ambulance services went on strike on 21 December and again on 11 January. Today is their third day of action. Health workers at the two Liverpool hospitals first walked out on 21 December and staff at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence followed suit last Tuesday (17 January).
– UNISON is also re-balloting workers at the remaining five ambulance services in England (South East Coast, South Central, East of England, West Midlands and East Midlands) and the Welsh Ambulance Service. This began on 6 January and continues until 16 February. Also being re-balloted are UNISON members at NHS Blood and Transplant, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the North West-based Bridgewater Community Trust.
– UNISON spokespeople will be visiting regions and available for interview today: general secretary Christina McAnea (North West); head of health Sara Gorton (Yorkshire); deputy head of health Helga Pile and ambulance lead Sharan Bandesha (London); national officer Alan Lofthouse and assistant general secretary Jon RIchards (South West).
– To be put in touch with a striking ambulance worker, please speak to the national media team.
– Ambulance workers belonging to Unite are also taking action in the West Midlands, North West, North East, East Midlands and Wales today, as is the GMB in the West Midlands.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union and the largest union in the NHS and in the ambulance sector. It has more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
The article New money for NHS pay from Treasury could end dispute, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.