Co-ordinated strikes by many hospital staff could cause chaos for millions of Brits this Christmas as healthcare workers seek better pay to fight inflation. The six largest health unions, covering nurses, paramedics, and hospital staff such as cleaners and porters, are planning to launch walkouts at the same time in the run-up to Christmas.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has demanded a 17.6 percent pay rise, while other unions are also asking for increases in their salaries as the country prepares for tough economic times ahead.
The six unions in question – Unite, GMB, Unison, the RCN, the Royal College of Midwives and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy – held talks on Monday ahead of their meeting with Health Secretary Steve Barclay.
One union source told The Telegraph: “There are discussions ongoing about co-ordination.
“There is no point having a strike if nobody notices. People say ‘ah but it’s going to be so disruptive’.
“Well that’s what a strike is about, it’s not going to be easy.”
If the industrial action does go ahead, it would mean nurses, paramedics, 999 call handlers, ambulance technicians, porters and cleaners would all cease working simultaneously.
One union source familiar with the discussion said: “Ministers really need to sit up and see the state of the NHS.
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According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Health Service has treated 5.3 percent fewer people in 2022 than before the pandemic in 2019.
However, hospital staff are still dealing with a backlog of over seven million people on waiting lists for treatment.
NHS England has committed to eliminating all waits of 18 months by April 2023, and the number of people waiting over 62 days from an urgent cancer referral to starting treatment should return to pre-pandemic levels by March 2023.