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NHS Strikes In Cornwall

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3:32pm 13th October 2014
(Updated 3:32pm 13th October 2014)

Cornish nurses, paramedics and midwives go on strike.

Hundreds of NHS staff are walking out over pay on Monday morning and then refusing to do overtime until the end of the week.

This as unions warn morale is at rock bottom.

They say big hikes in the cost of parking permits and tendering out services to private companies isn't helping.

Stuart Roden from Unison in the Duchy told Pirate FM: "Morale was pretty low anyway. People are under a lot of pressure. The hospital has been virtually full for weeks on end. I think everything together has been like the straw which broke the camel's back.

"The last time was over 32 years ago. Our action is aimed at the government to try to persuade them. They honoured their own pay review body for MPs' salaries yet they're stopping it for low paid NHS workers."

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: "We are working through some of the toughest times in the history of the NHS.

"A pay award for all staff on top of increments would have cost £450m more - the equivalent of 14,000 newly qualified nurses.

"Hard-pressed staff would have been put under greater pressure or may have had to be reduced.

"Restraining pay was a tough decision for politicians to make and I believe they did it on the basis of improving the quality of care and maintaining continuity of services."

NHS bosses say non-emergency appointments will be postponed during the strike and emergencies won't get ignored.

But ambulance service providers in parts of the UK say they may be forced to prioritise their care and are bringing in extra staff from the military to fill in the gaps.

The strike action on Monday will be followed by an overtime ban in the ambulance service from Tuesday 14th to Friday 17th with other NHS employees working to their contracted hours during the same period.

GMB members are also taking part. Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer, said: "NHS Staff take action with a heavy heart as their only priority is to deliver the best patient care, quality and outcomes. Even after staff voted to take strike action and action short of a strike the Secretary of State for Health has refused to meet with the unions representing NHS staffs.

"GMB has agreed with Ambulance Services that life-threatening and certain other categories of call (such as renal dialysis and Oncology patients) will be responded to by GMB ambulance crews during the forthcoming dispute in the NHS.  In addition, GMB has agreed that the major and hazardous incident team will remain on duty in case a major incident occurs.

"The intervention by Government means that the 1% will only be available to approximately 40% of NHS employees and it will not be consolidated in to basic pay

"Government intervention is in stark contrast to its view when the independent Pay Review Body for MP's recommended that MP's should receive a pay rise of 11%.".  In that case the government said it could not interfere with the recommendation because it had come from an independent body. Our members are angry as there seems to be one rule for MP's and a different rule for everyone else.

"Members have seen workload increasing and colleagues being overworked. When the cost of living has increased members have endured not just pay freezes but pay cuts, as NHS pay rates are frozen to April 2013 rates.

"Jeremy Hunt claims that he withholding the NHS Pay Review Body recommendation s because the cost of implementation will mean further job cuts. NHS Staff are not convinced this is the case as they know the true cost of what is happening to the NHS.

"£3 billion was wasted on top down NHS reorganisation while £13.5 billion of NHS services are tendered to the private sector and over £1 billion NHS money has been returned to Treasury. This demonstrates the choices Jeremy Hunt is making over NHS Staff pay."

Ken Wenman is Chief Executive at South Western Ambulance Service, he said: "We are very fortunate to have the support that we do in the South West, also staff in the ambulance service in the South West are vocational, they don't need to go out on strike and there is only a small percentage that do and not a large percentage.

"Of course we will be providing 999 ambulances to all of those seriously ill and injured patients, I would ask though that the public think twice before dialling 999, perhaps they should call 111 in the first instance."

3:32pm 13th October 2014

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