1,000 Welsh ambulance workers join those in England in voting to take industrial action
Around 1,000 Welsh Ambulance Service workers will stage industrial action, their union, Unite, announced today.
The workers, including paramedics, EMTs and emergency call handling staff, voted by 88 per cent to strike.
Unite will announce strike dates early in the new year. They will join more than 1,600 ambulance workers and Unite members in England, who took strike action on 21 December.
Unite’s Welsh Ambulance Service members say such is the “decay” across the entire health service, that where they once saw 10 patients a day, often they can now deal with only one per shift, spending hours and even whole days at a time sitting outside A&E with patients waiting to be seen.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s Ambulance service members in Wales are striking because they see first-hand every day how the NHS is collapsing. They are dedicated life-saving professionals and are taking this step because they know the NHS itself needs saving.
“The Welsh government must put a better offer on the table to help resolve the recruitment and retention crisis that is crippling the service. But it is also incumbent on the Conservative government in Westminster, who hold the ultimate responsibility for the years of destruction inflicted on the NHS, to meet with heath unions and urgently address staffing and pay levels.”
‘Take a stand’
Unite said that over a decade of pay cuts and crippling service pressures have decimated NHS Wales recruitment and retention – a primary cause of the crisis engulfing the service.
Nearly one in 10 posts – 132,000 positions – are now vacant and the figure is continuing to grow. October was the worst on record for meeting NHS targets.
Unite members in the Welsh Ambulance Service said that many Red and Amber calls, the most serious and life threatening of categories, are not being responded to quickly enough and sometimes not at all.
Unite regional officer Richard Munn said: “The last thing our Welsh Ambulance Service workers want to do is strike. But they know they have to take a stand to prevent the NHS from total collapse.
“As with all NHS strikes, life and limb cover will be provided and ambulance workers will stand ready on the picket line to respond to calls if they are needed.”
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