NHS WORKERS have started a four hour strike in protest at the Government’s decision to block a one per cent pay rise.
Staff were expected to form a picket line outside of Worcestershire Royal Hospital from 7am until 11am today (Monday).
Emergency care including A&E and delivery suite, is expected to continue as normal but disruption to routine appointments and antenatal clinics is anticipated.
Today’s stoppage will be followed by four days of action short of a strike which will include staff refusing to work through their break.
Members of unions including Unison, Unite and the GMB are taking part as well as the Royal College of Midwives for the first time in the organisation’s 133 year history.
The row revolves around Jeremy Hunt’s decision to ignore the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendation for a one per cent pay rise for all staff.
Instead only those at the top of their pay band get the rise, which the unions say means no extra cash for 60 per cent of NHS workers.
Franco Buonaguro, Regional Head of Health for UNISON, said: “NHS members don’t take action often or lightly. For many of our members this will be the first time they walk out as the last action over pay was 32 years ago.
“Staff are on average 10 per cent worse off than when the coalition came to power and this means their families are suffering and morale is hitting rock bottom. A well-motivated workforce saves lives so we need to cherish and support our NHS staff who work day in, day out caring for others.
“The NHS runs on the goodwill of its workers, but this Government has shown utter contempt for them by refusing to give any pay increase to the vast majority this year and next.”
A spokeswoman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said they were unable to say how the strike would affect them until they knew how many staff were taking part.
Paramedics are also taking part and West Midlands Ambulance Service is warning fewer ambulances could be on the road
The public is being urged to call 999 only in a life-threatening emergency.
Mark Gough, assistant chief ambulance officer for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said they would not know until today how many staff would decide to strike but there would be ‘some reduction’ in ambulance provision.
“We have agreed with unions a way for staff to be able to show their strength of feeling over the issue while still preserving an ambulance service for the most seriously ill and injured.
“The public has an important part to play in this and we ask you not to call 999 unless it is a real, genuine, life-threatening emergency.”