Crews at half of England’s ambulance services have voted to take strike action over pay, Unison has announced. Paramedics, call handlers and other staff backed a walkout at five of the 10 regional teams with the union saying action is likely before Christmas.
Unison is one of three unions that represent ambulance staff, and rules requiring emergency care to be provided mean the strike impact will be limited. But Unison members at more than 200 other NHS trusts did not back strikes.
The union – the biggest in the NHS – balloted staff including cleaners, porters, nurses and health care assistants at hospitals and mental health trusts and in community services across England.
Turnout was too low in every vote with the exception of three, including two hospitals in Liverpool.
Members in Wales were also balloted, but turnout was too low at every service.
But a strike by Unison members will take place in Northern Ireland across ambulance and other NHS services on 12 December as turnout requirements are lower there.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea accepted the result was disappointing. But she said with ambulance services struggling to respond to calls – the response times are the longest since modern records began – staff there felt they had no choice.
Just last week the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives warned patients were dying because of the “crippling delays”.
Ms McAnea said until the government acts on wages, staff shortages would not be addressed and delays would continue. But she added: “Patients will always come first and emergency cover will be available during any strike
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