February 6, 2023 4.00 pm This story is over 14 months old

New picket line, same message from Lincoln’s ambulance workers

Government “refusing” to negotiate, unions say

By Local Democracy Reporter

Striking ambulance workers in Lincoln have joined the single largest day of industrial action in the history of the NHS, as tensions continue to rise in the healthcare sector.

A group of East Midlands Ambulance Service workers gathered outside Lincoln’s blue lights station for police, fire and ambulance services on South Park on Monday – protesting over pay and working conditions.

The government faces an uphill battle to negotiate better deals for healthcare workers in their day-to-day life, whether it be an increase to the wage slip, more flexible job security, or both.

The GMB Union are quick to remind people that these picket lines are not solely down to salaries, but also the current state of the National Health Service along with the deployment of staff, which many feel can be utilised better.

Question marks are raised over staff allocation among other issues within the wider NHS, particularly here in Lincolnshire, with three critical incidents in two weeks at Lincoln County Hospital in December 2022 and January 2023.

| Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

This latest round of strikes coincide with the largest day of industrial action in the NHS’ history, due to walkouts from Unite, the Royal College of Nursing as well as the GMB Union members who work in the ambulance service.

The regional secretary for the GMB Union, Colin Todd, told The Lincolnite¬†that while all health unions are fighting their own battles, they “speak as one” when it comes to the mission objective of helping the public.

“If we don’t take action on the same day or so, it’s still the same argument and same dispute. Th government won’t sit down and talk to the health unions and that’s the big problem.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service asked residents to use 999 calls wisely and make their own way to GP appointments or hospitals if possible, while strike action takes place.

This guidance was welcomed by the unions, who say the strikes have brought about education of the issue for people who may not previously have been aware.

| Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Colin Todd said: “There are a lot of other operational issues that need to be looked at, and thankfully the strike action have offered learning for everyone.

“That could be from calling 111, which again is fine, but 111 operators need to consider if it should be directed to the ambulance service or if there are other pathways available.”

Business Secretary Grant Shapps was quoted over the weekend saying that striking ambulance workers “could cost lives”, which has angered many within the unions.

GMB’s regional East Midlands secretary added: “Grant Shapps is a liar. We agree exemptions with EMAS and have done from day one, we’ve done that again and they are on our website so that people can see what we are up to.G

“When he says what he says, he’s actually scaremongering. The last strike action in January saw a 20% drop in emergency calls, so the public have taken on board that there is an issue.”

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