10,000 ambulance workers have voted to strike before Christmas.
Emergency workers in the GMB Union will walk out before the end of the year, with representatives across nine services to meet and decide dates.
This comes as the cost of living crisis continues to pile pressure on people’s finances, with the NHS struggling to attract staff due in part to stagnating wages. It has been reported there are up to 10 hour ambulance waiting times due to the shortage.
They are striking over the government’s four per cent pay award which GMB branded “another massive real terms pay cut.”
Earlier this month, The Royal College of Nursing announced that nurses would walk out on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December.
After announcing the decision, Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, said: “Ambulance workers – like other NHS workers – are on their knees.
“Demoralised and downtrodden, they’ve faced twelve years of Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, fought on the frontline of a global pandemic and now face the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.”
“No one in the NHS takes strike action lightly – today shows just how desperate they are.”
“This is as much about unsafe staffing levels and patient safety as it is about pay. A third of GMB ambulance workers think delays they’ve been involved with have led to the death of a patient.
“Something has to change or the service as we know it will collapse.”
Among ambulance workers to strike are those who are paramedics, emergency care assistance, call handlers and other staff in the service.
The union said staff across ambulance services in the South West, South East Coast, North West, South Central, North East, East Midlands, West Midlands, Welsh and Yorkshire.
The department for health and social care (DHSC) released a ‘fact-sheet’ on its website, in which secretary Steve Barclay responds to the ambulance strike, and other industrial action from health workers.
While thanking NHS workers for their dedication, he said: “I deeply regret some will be taking industrial action – which is in nobody’s best interests as we approach a challenging winter.”
“Our economic circumstances mean unions’ demands are not affordable – each additional one per cent pay rise for all staff on the Agenda for Change contract would cost around £700 million a year.’
“We’ve prioritised the NHS with record funding and accepted the independent pay review body recommendations in full to give over one million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, with those on the lowest salaries receiving an increase of up to 9.3%.
“This is on top of 3% last year when public sector pay was frozen and wider government support with the cost of living.”
“Our priority is keeping patients safe during any strikes and the NHS has tried and tested plans to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.
“My door remains open to discuss with the unions ways we can make the NHS a better place to work.”