Thousand of ambulance crews across England and Wales are to strike for a second time on January 23

Thousand of ambulance crews across England and Wales are to strike for a second time on January 23 in pay dispute meaning only people with life-threatening medical problems will be rushed to hospital under blue lights

  • Unite members at NHS trusts in England and Wales will walk out on January 23
  • More than 2,600 people in Midlands, North West, North East and Wales involved
  • General secretary Sharon Graham said staff ‘left with no option’ but walk-out

Thousands of ambulance staff are to strike for a second time later this month in a bitter dispute over pay and staffing levels.

Unite members at NHS trusts in England and Wales will walk out on January 23, following a 24-hour strike before Christmas.

More than 2,600 ambulance workers in the West Midlands, North West, North East, East Midlands and Wales will be involved in the walkout. The union said it will work with local trusts to ensure life and limb emergency cover.

Unite said the strike marks an escalation in the dispute as more workers will take action than during the previous strike last month. That saw soldiers drafted in to help free up staff for frontline services.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Unite’s ambulance workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action. They are fighting to protect patients, to save the ambulance service and the NHS itself, as well as providing for their families. 

More than 2,600 ambulance workers in the West Midlands, North West, North East, East Midlands and Wales will be involved in the walkout.

More than 2,600 ambulance workers in the West Midlands, North West, North East, East Midlands and Wales will be involved in the walkout.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: 'Unite's ambulance workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action. They are fighting to protect patients, to save the ambulance service and the NHS itself, as well as providing for their families'

General secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Unite’s ambulance workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action. They are fighting to protect patients, to save the ambulance service and the NHS itself, as well as providing for their families’

‘The Government has had months to intervene and end this dispute but has failed to do so. They choose to attack NHS workers rather than get more money for the NHS from profiteering companies. They repeatedly refuse to sit down and negotiate in order to resolve the dispute.

‘The talks the Government has lined up for Monday yet again look like nothing more than a smokescreen and are clearly not a negotiation on NHS pay.

‘But this is real and urgent. NHS staff need their bills paying now. Vital health workers are leaving the service now. Patients are suffering and dying now. The Prime Minister needs to step up to the moment and lead. That is what he is paid for.’

In line with the previous industrial action, Unite’s representatives will be working at a local level to agree derogations to ensure that emergency cover is in place during the strike.

The industrial action will be for 24 hours from 0001 until 2359 in Wales, the North West, North East and East Midlands. The West Midlands strike will be for 12 hours from 0600 to 1800.

Unite members employed by the Welsh Ambulance Service will also be taking an initial day of industrial action on January 19.

Meanwhile the chairman of the British Medical Association council said he expects junior doctors in England will vote to strike for 72 hours in March if balloted.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme if he is expecting the strike to be voted for, Professor Phil Banfield said: ‘Yes. We have done a lot of preparation and research and we wouldn’t be balloting unless we felt that a positive response was going to be the result.’

He added: ‘It’s in the gift of the Government to head this off and we would hope that they would see sense and attempt to do so.’

Addressing safety, he said: ‘More senior doctors, so consultants and specialists doctors will be providing that emergency cover, and the evidence would suggest that the service and the risk to patients actually reduces on those kind of strike days.’

‘I think the gap between us and the employers is very narrow. The chasm is between us and the Government, which has had years of sub-inflationary pay recommendations sanctioned by the pay review body, which is anything but independent,’ he said.

But RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (centre) was among union leaders attacking the plans. He told GB News: ' I think these laws will be a failure. Working people are not going to put up with an oppression of their rights and will fight back.'

But RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (centre) was among union leaders attacking the plans. He told GB News: ‘ I think these laws will be a failure. Working people are not going to put up with an oppression of their rights and will fight back.’

The Prime Minister insisted his plan for new legislation to bring in a minimum service level for ambulances, the fire service and railway networks was needed to protect lives.

The Prime Minister insisted his plan for new legislation to bring in a minimum service level for ambulances, the fire service and railway networks was needed to protect lives.

It came as Rishi Sunak today defended his ‘reasonable’ plan for a new law to limit strike action, as a hardline union leader vowed to fight the change in the streets.

The Prime Minister insisted his plan for new legislation to bring in a minimum service level for ambulances, the fire service and railway networks was needed to protect lives.

The Government announced yesterday they they are pressing ahead with plans to introduce new legislation for ‘minimum safety levels’ during industrial action.

The Bill will be introduced in Parliament in the coming weeks to ensure vital public services maintain a ‘basic function’ when workers go on strike.

Speaking to broadcasters on a visit to a school in south-west London, Mr Sunak said he had invited union leaders for what he hopes will be a ‘grown-up’ conversation on Monday about what is affordable. 

But Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch was among union leaders attacking the plans. He told GB News: ‘ I think these laws will be a failure. Working people are not going to put up with an oppression of their rights and will fight back. 

‘We will oppose it in Parliament and we will oppose it on the streets and in the workplace.’

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