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17
Oct

Further strike action threatened by health unions


NHS staff have threatened further strike action next month if the government does not agree to the 1% pay rise demanded by the union.

NHS staff have threatened further strike action next month if the government does not agree to the 1% pay rise demanded by the union.

Unions who took part in this week’s strike action have said further strike action will take place in November unless the health secretary meets them for talks and offers more money.

Seven unions, plus 2,600 senior hospital doctors who are members of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, took part in the original strike.

It is believed that either a four-hour walkout by all groups at the same time with a possibility of escalating to an all-day stoppage, will take place. However, plans will be finalised this week when union leaders meet to review this week’s strike action.

During Monday's strike, hospital clinics had to be postponed, antenatal classes were cancelled and operations had to be called off due to a lack of staff.

The ambulance service was thought to have been hit the worst with patients suffering from broken bones or breathing difficulties told to make their own way to hospital or visit their GP.

In a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt this week, Unison's head of health Christina McAnea said: "Members have been telling you that patient care is now compromised by plunging morale and increasing recruitment and retention problems. It is not in the interests of patients that many staff have to work additional hours or take a second job just to make ends meet.

"You continue to state that the NHS faces a stark choice between pay and jobs but the evidence just is not there to support that. The NHS pay cap has been in place since 2009 and jobs continue to be lost. It is possible to have a properly funded NHS with enough staff who are paid fairly for the vital work they do – and yesterday has shown that the public agrees with us."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "NHS staff are our greatest asset and we know they are working extremely hard.

“This is why despite tough financial times, we've protected the NHS budget and now have 13,500 more clinical staff than in 2010.

“We want to protect these increases and cannot afford incremental pay increases – which disproportionately reward the highest earners – on top of a general pay rise without risking frontline NHS jobs."

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