Union urges Government to 'get its head out of the sand' as ambulance workers in East Midlands confirm strike action

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Members of the East Midlands Ambulance Service will be among more than 2,600 ambulance workers in the Midlands, North East and Wales who will take strike action on Monday, January 23 in the increasingly bitter dispute over pay.

The action in the East Midlands will be for 24 hours, from 12.01am until 11.59pm.

However, in line with the previous industrial action, Unite’s representatives say the union will work with local trusts to ensure life and limb emergency cover is in place during the strike period.

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The strike marks an escalation as more workers join the dispute, which saw an initial day of industrial action on December 21 last year.

Unite members in EMAS will strike on January 23Unite members in EMAS will strike on January 23
Unite members in EMAS will strike on January 23

Amid latest figures which reveal ambulance handover rates in England have reached record levels, with one in four waiting for more than an hour to discharge patients to A&E, Unite says its’ ambulance workers are striking as a last resort.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite’s ambulance workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action.

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"They are fighting to protect patients, to save the ambulance service and the NHS itself, as well as providing for their families.

“The Government has had months to intervene and end this dispute but has failed to do so.

"They choose to attack NHS workers rather than get more money for the NHS from profiteering companies.

"They repeatedly refuse to sit down and negotiate to resolve the dispute.

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“But this is real and urgent – NHS staff need their bills paying now.

“Vital health workers are leaving the service now, patients are suffering and dying now, the Prime Minister needs to step up to the moment and lead.

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Union leaders say the pay crisis in the NHS is becoming so severe that an ever-growing number of NHS trusts are running food banks, or undertaking other measures such as free breakfasts or providing soup, to help ensure the welfare of staff.

Onay Kasab, Unite national lead officer, said: “The Government has repeatedly missed open goals to resolve this dispute.

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"Unions have been invited to talk and then told they can’t talk about pay, in a pay dispute.

“The Government must get its head out of the sand and finally enter into serious negotiations about pay in order to avert further industrial action.

"The general public must be as mystified as our ambulance workers are, as to why the Government is not moving heaven and earth to resolve this dispute.”

EMAS says it is working with the unions.

Tina Richardson, EMAS deputy director of human resources and organisational development, said: “As we have done previously with our other trade union colleagues, we will begin to proactively engage with Unite and NHS Employers to ensure we carry on supporting the wellbeing of our staff, whilst continuing to prioritise our response to patients.”

Advice to the public on accessing the EMAS service during periods of industrial action is available on the website at bit.ly/3vS1Ybg