The GMB trade union has informed its members that it has cancelled the industrial action scheduled for 28 December 2022. Instead, strike action is now scheduled for 11 January 2023.
The national pay dispute saw GMB members at East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) take strike action over a 24-hour period, from 06.00 hours on Wednesday 21 December 2022.
Ben Holdaway, EMAS Director of Operations, said:
“The GMB announcement today is welcome as it removes some of the anxiety all our staff would have had around the action planned for the 28th.
“It will also provide us with time to review the action taken this week and continue local discussions with our trade union colleagues to prepare for the new strike date of Wednesday 11 January 2023.
“Wednesday was an immensely challenging day this week, however, the regional plans drawn up at EMAS and the huge effort behind the scenes and across the wider NHS to minimise the impact of industrial action on patient safety was appreciated.
“Our approach was also supported by the public who responded to the plea to use services wisely and to make their own way to a treatment centre or hospital if safe to do so; of course, these are behaviours that should continue as the NHS continues to face significant pressures.”
During the strike period this week, emergency 999 call numbers reduce by 33%.
Ben added: “I am grateful to our colleagues both on and off the picket lines, and in the trade unions, for their professionalism and collaboration throughout industrial action, to ensure we could continue to respond to patients in need of an emergency response.
“The NHS remains open and people are asked not to store up their health conditions or soldier on until after the four-day Christmas Bank Holiday weekend. Doing so may result in very high demand which our services will find very challenging to manage, particularly so given the huge rise in flu hospital cases and staff sickness across the country reported this week.
“Please access care when you need it and continue to support the NHS by using services wisely – people should only call 999 if there is a risk to life, eg cardiac arrest, unconscious or catastrophic bleed, or if seriously ill or injured eg stroke or a serious traumatic injury. Ambulances will be sent to patients where clinically appropriate, eg where the life-saving equipment and skills of the clinicians on board are required.
“We will continue to work with trade union colleagues closely to keep patients safe in any future periods of industrial action and continue to fully respect the right of NHS staff to take lawful and peaceful action. However, we urge national employer representatives and trade union colleagues to proactively engage and reach a negotiated settlement to the dispute as quickly as possible.”
The next scheduled period of industrial action by the GMB trade union is set to take place at EMAS on Wednesday 11 January 2023.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
“While union members will not be going ahead with strikes over Christmas, we are disappointed they have announced further coordinated strikes in January to cause maximum disruption at a time when the NHS is already under extreme pressure.
“Ambulance staff on picket lines have been raising concerns about working conditions and handover times, so it is important to use this extra time to keep talking about how we can make the NHS a better place to work. However, the unaffordable pay demands of unions would mean taking money away from frontline services and causing further delays to care.
“Strikes are in no one’s best interest, least of all patients, and I urge unions to reconsider further industrial action to avoid an even greater impact on patients.”