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Employment

Thousands of ambulance staff and nurses strike over pay and conditions

NHS nurses and ambulance workers taken strike action at hospitals across the UK to cause maximum disruption as the rising cost of living has become a unifying threat

NHS workers on the picket line outside Arrowe Park hospital in the Wirral. Image: Katie Kendrick, Nurse Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral

Tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance workers have walked out in protest in what is thought to be the biggest strike in the history of the NHS.

NHS workers are taking strike action every day this week bar Wednesday, as staff across the health service highlight how their section of the NHS has been ravaged by spending cuts and difficulties recruiting staff after a decade of real-terms pay cuts and poor conditions.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing in a third of England’s NHS trusts have gone on strike, joined by ambulance workers in unions GMB and Unite.

Negotiations between the government and the RCN have continued to falter, with the RCN seeking a pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation – most recently measured at 10.5 per cent – to make up for what it calls a decade of real-terms pay cuts.

Nurses will continue into their second day of strike action on Tuesday, joined by midwives and physiotherapists in Wales. On Thursday, physiotherapists across England are set to join the action, followed by ambulance staff with Unison on Friday.

“Nurses and ambulance staff are striking today to fight for fair pay and for safe staffing levels. We are fighting for the NHS,” tweeted clinical nurse Harry Eccles.

“Every day we go to work there is short staffing, this means that patient care is at risk,” wrote Charlotte Jakab-Hall. “83 per cent of shifts are understaffed, and around one in eight nursing posts are vacant in England alone. Last year, 25,000 nursing professionals left the NMC register.”

Oncology nurse Debs Cooper tweeted: “Freezing cold on the picket line and losing a day’s pay because this is more important than just me. Safe staffing isn’t something the government should care about only on strike days, it’s something that needs to be a priority EVERY day!”

The West Midlands branch of the Unite union tweeted a picture of members wrapped up warm against the early morning chill, writing: “A cold frosty morning from Coventry. All our members are in good spirits and determined to battle for better pay. They’ve only just begun!”

In the Wirral, nurses joined a picket line outside Arrowe Park hospital, described as “off to a strong start!!” by campaign group Nurses deserve better.

Image: Katie Kendrick, Nurse Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral

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