Published by BBC NEWS - 8th May 2023
  • Published
Unite members on the picket lineImage source, PA Media

Ambulance staff with the Unite union in the South East are set to strike on Tuesday in its dispute over pay.

The planned action comes after Unite rejected a 5% pay deal offered to NHS staff in England last month.

The union said the strike was part of its “escalation strategy to exert greater pressure on the government”.

A Department of Health & Social Care spokesman said the action was “disappointing” and would put “more pressure” on the NHS.

Its advice for patients is to continue to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency and use NHS 111 online services for non-urgent health needs.

The union’s members at both South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust and South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust are planning to walk out from 12:00 until 22:00 BST on Tuesday.

Picket lines will be in place in Northfleet and Portsmouth, Unite said.

The government had offered a 5% pay rise for 2023-24 and a one-off payment of at least £1,655 to top up last year’s salary.

‘Crippling the NHS’

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham called on the government to re-open negotiations to ensure “a proper wage offer is made” to NHS workers.

She added: “We have always said a non-consolidated lump sum for 22/23 would not cut it.

“The current offer does nothing to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis crippling the NHS.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “It is disappointing some Unite members are continuing strike action this week – these strikes will put more pressure on the NHS and will be disruptive for patients.

“Most unions on the NHS Staff Council voted to accept our pay offer and we hope the unions who choose to remain in dispute – despite many of their members also voting to accept this offer – will recognise this as a fair outcome that carries the support of their colleagues and decide it is time to bring industrial action to an end.”

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