AMBULANCE staff will strike for the second time in a month tomorrow after last-minute pay talks failed.
Thousands of 999 workers will walk out despite “progress” between unions and Health Secretary Steve Barclay yesterday.
He told reps that higher salaries could be unlocked with greater NHS efficiency and promised to consider backdating next year’s pay deal to this month.
Unison’s Sara Gorton, said: “We didn’t get the tangible concessions that would enable us to call off the strikes but it was definitely progress.
“The Secretary of State was very clear that resolving this dispute means not just talking about pay for the next period but pay for the current pay year — ahead of April.”
Tomorrow’s action will see control room staff joining paramedics on the picket line with up to 25,000 Unison and GMB members staging a 24- hour walkout.
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Thousands of patients could be denied emergency help or have appointments cancelled.
And hospital bosses fear this round of strikes — involving every mainland ambulance service except the East of England — will be worse than December’s action when nearly 5,000 ops and appointments were postponed.
Miriam Deakin, from NHS Providers, said: “Delays have increased and strain across the whole system has intensified since December’s strikes.
“This will pile even more pressure on an already overstretched health service.”
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Despite no breakthroughs, ministers appeared to soften their stance on a pay deal with Business Secretary Grant Shapps insisting the Government wants a more “collaborative approach” to resolve widespread industrial action.
Meanwhile, junior doctors demanding a 26.1 per cent pay boost voted in a strike ballot yesterday and threatened a 72-hour walkout in March.