Unite union announced fresh ambulance worker walkouts which will see the NHS in England and Wales face the biggest strike action they have experienced.
Thousands of nurses from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) were already scheduled to strike on February 6 and 7, and the GMB union announced earlier this week that its ambulance workers would join them on February 6.
On Friday morning, Unite said workers from five ambulance trusts in England and Wales would also join the strike on February 6.
It comes after thousands of nurses across the UK this week, while around 1,000 ambulance workers in Wales also walked out on Thursday.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said of the new announcement: “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.”
Health secretary Steve Barclay appeared to rule out a 10% pay rise for nurses, insisting it was “not affordable”.
“Well 10% is not affordable, it would be an extra £3.6bn 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,” he said.
“Now, within Government we take a whole Government approach – of course I have discussions with the Treasury, as do other Secretaries of State, and these things need to be balanced not just with the needs of teachers, with the Education Secretary, or train drivers with the Transport Secretary, but also what’s affordable for your viewers in terms of their own cost-of-living pressures.”