Paramedics to join public sector strike
Some workers who are part of the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) will join nurses, health care assistants and other medical staff to protest at the Government’s failure to grant a one per cent pay rise.
Union chiefs say staff will make every effort to tend to calls where life is in danger.
Unison branch secretary for the NEAS, Joel Byers, said: “Strike action is our last resort but we have to take a stand, and this is now our only option.
“Some employees on bands two and three are having to go to food banks as they are financially struggling because the cost of living is rising but their wages are not – it is disgraceful.
“We’ve given the ambulance service exemptions so we are not going to leave the service with no staff.
“Life-threatening calls will be responded to. However people who are not life-threatening may have to wait a little longer than normal.”
A spokesman for NEAS said: “The unions are in a national dispute with the Government over pay and have held recent ballots where their members have voted in favour of industrial action.
“This is a national dispute, although it will have a disruptive impact on the care of patients and the delivery of ambulance services we provide. Our overriding obligation is to patients.
“We are talking with the unions to understand any exemptions to this industrial action that will minimise the impact of their action on services and ensure that the quality of patient care is not compromised. These discussions are ongoing.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “NHS staff are our greatest asset and we know they are working extremely hard.
“This is why despite tough financial times, we’ve protected the NHS budget and now have 13,500 more clinical staff than in 2010.
“We want to protect these increases and cannot afford incremental pay increases – which disproportionately reward the highest earners – on top of a general pay rise without risking frontline NHS jobs.
“We remain keen to meet with the unions to discuss how we can work together to make the NHS pay system fairer and more affordable.”