Thousands of ambulance workers have taken industrial action on Monday and the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been accused of “blocking progress.”
Around 15,000 Unison ambulance workers have headed to the picket line for the third time in five weeks.
Ambulance workers will be joined by thousands of nurses are two hospitals in Liverpool and more strikes are planned over the coming weeks.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said the solution to ending the strikes is “simple,” which is “staring the government in the face.”
She added that “most Ministers look like they’d rather dig in and do nothing instead of boost pay and said that Hunt is “blocking progress.”
McAnea continued, “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.”
She added, “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.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said a double-digit pay rise has to be offered to NHS staff, and she added that the government appear to be willing to “talk about anything, but they won’t talk about pay.”
She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, “The public is supporting that pay rise as we can see from surveys, and we’ve got the employer, in this instance the government, who will talk about anything, but they won’t talk about pay.”
She added, “I’m negotiating with somebody at the moment that I don’t think wants resolution, and that’s a real problem.”
In a statement on Sunday, the Health Secretary Steve Barclay said, “It is hugely disappointing some ambulance workers are continuing to take industrial action.
“While we have contingency plans in place to mitigate risks to patient safety, there will inevitably be further disruption.
“It is important people continue coming forward for treatment – call 999 in life threatening emergencies and use NHS 111 online, local pharmacies and GP services for non-life threatening care.
“I have had constructive talks with unions about this coming year’s pay process for 2023/24, and am keen to continue talking about what is affordable and fair.”
NHS medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said, “As with other ambulance strikes, the message to patients remains that it is vital to come forward and seek emergency care if needed.
“This includes calling 999 for life-threatening emergencies as well as using 111 online for other health needs where you will receive clinical advice on the best next steps to take.
“People should also continue to use local services such as pharmacies and general practice as they normally would which aren’t impacted by strike action.”
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