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More ambulance workers to join biggest strike in NHS history



Thousands more ambulance workers will join the picket line on February 6 in what is set to be the biggest strike in NHS history.

The new dates announced by the Unite union coincide with strikes announced by GMB, which represents more than 10,000 ambulance staff.

Up to 40,000 nurses from the Royal College of Nursing will also be picketing, with government talks showing no sign of resolution.

More strike dates have been scheduled by the unions for February and March.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said:

“Rather than act to protect the NHS and negotiate an end to the dispute, the Government has disgracefully chosen to demonise ambulance workers.

“Ministers are deliberately misleading the public about the life and limb cover and who is to blame for excessive deaths.

“Our members faithfully provide life and limb cover on strike days and it’s not the unions who are not providing minimum service levels.

“It’s this Government’s disastrous handling of the NHS that has brought it to breaking point and, as crisis piles on crisis, the Prime Minister is seen to be washing his hands of the dispute.”

Unite said that derogations would be in place to ensure that emergency “life and limb” cover would be in place throughout the industrial action.

Other derogations would ensure that patients requiring lifesaving treatment such as chemotherapy would be transported to their appointments.

During a hospital visit earlier this week, Health secretary Steve Barclay insisted that a 10 per cent pay rise for nurses was ‘not affordable’.

He said:

“It would be an extra £3.6 billion a year and obviously that would take money away from patient services, essential services that we need to invest in given the backlogs from the pandemic.”

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