NHS crisis deepens

Unite ballots thousands more NHS workers for strike in early 2023

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Thousands more NHS workers across London, Merseyside and Manchester have begun balloting for strike action, Unite, which represents some 100,000 NHS workers, said on Friday (November 25).

Unite said its healthcare members are warning the NHS is on ‘life support’ and that without serious investment to stem the recruitment and retention crisis and save failing services it may not survive.

The workers perform roles in nursing, healthcare, science, counselling, psychology, dentistry, pharmacology, audiology, optometry, administration, IT and building maintenance services.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Anyone who has had the misfortune to be taken to hospital in an ambulance or spent far too long waiting for treatment knows the NHS is in a fight for its life. Burnt out low paid staff, who have seen their wages attacked every year for more than a decade, are leaving in droves.

“The NHS is on life support and without proper pay and funding it may not survive. That’s why NHS workers are standing up: They know that decent pay is essential to the service’s future.”

The constant real terms pay cuts and the increasing pressure that workers are experiencing in the NHS are key factors in the growing vacancies for staff in the NHS. Nearly one in 10 posts – 132,000 positions – are now vacant and the figure is continuing to grow.

In London, Unite members at the South London and Maudsley, Guy’s and St Thomas, Barts, East London, Homerton Healthcare, Imperial College and Camden and Islington NHS trusts are being balloted.

Meanwhile, in Manchester, Unite members at NHS Blood and Transplant and the Manchester University Hospitals, Christie, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, East Lancashire Hospitals, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, Greater Manchester Mental Health and Warrington and Holton NHS trusts are being balloted.

And in Merseyside, Unite members at NHS Blood and Transplant and the Mersey Care NHS Foundation, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation, Christie NHS Foundation and Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation are being balloted.

The ballot results are expected in late December.

Unite has begun balloting nearly 10,000 health service workers across the country for strike action on top of thousands of other NHS workers who it has been balloting since October. Unite is also planning to ballot thousands more in the coming months.

By Ryan Fletcher