UK ambulance workers walk out, joining wave of strike action

Jan 11, 2023, 5:28 AM | Updated: 3:47 pm
An ambulance worker take part in a strike in London, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. Around 25,000 U.K. a...

An ambulance worker take part in a strike in London, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. Around 25,000 U.K. ambulance workers went on strike Wednesday, walking out for the second time since December in an ongoing dispute with the government over pay. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

LONDON (AP) — Around 25,000 U.K. ambulance workers went on strike Wednesday, walking out for the second time since December in an ongoing dispute with the government over pay.

The industrial action by paramedics, drivers and call handlers was the latest in a wave of strikes in recent months that has crippled the country’s rail network on some days and strained the U.K.’s overburdened public health system.

Health officials have warned that the impact of Wednesday’s strike will be worse than the one held in December because more staff, including call handlers, are walking out. People were advised to call in cases of life-threatening emergencies — such as cardiac arrest or a serious road accident — and ambulances will still respond to such situations.

But less urgent cases won’t be prioritized and some people will have to make their own way to hospitals.

Union leaders say some of the lowest-paid public health workers, including call handlers and drivers, are close to falling below the national minimum wage.

“When people accuse us of putting the public at risk, I would say it is this government that has put the public at risk by refusing consistently to talk to us. There is no offer on the table,” Christina McAnea, general secretary of the UNISON union, told striking workers outside an ambulance station in Sheffield in northern England.

Scores of other workers, including nurses, train and bus drivers and postal workers, have in recent months joined the strikes — the biggest in decades in Britain — to demand better salaries as inflation soars to the highest levels the U.K. has seen since the early 1980s. Inflation rose to 11.1% in October, before coming down slightly to 10.7% in November.

Wages, especially in the public sector, haven’t kept pace with the skyrocketing cost of living.

The strike action comes at a time of severe strain for the U.K.’s National Health Service, which has reported record demand on urgent and emergency care services this winter.

Officials have blamed the pressures on a surge of flu and other winter viruses after two years of COVID-19 restrictions. But the opposition Labour Party and many health workers say the problems run much deeper. Years of underfunding and staff shortages partly caused by a post-Brexit lack of European workers in the U.K. have combined to cause a public health crisis, they say.

Paramedics have described waiting outside hospitals on a daily basis for patients to be seen, and patients being left in hospital corridors for hours waiting to be transferred.

“People are waiting longer because we can’t get to them. It’s a lack of capacity in every department,” said Ian Grimble, an assistant ambulance practitioner.

Government officials met withtrade union leaders on Monday, but there has been no breakthrough in negotiations. Union leaders have also been angered by government plans to introduce legislation to set “minimum service levels” for firefighters, ambulance services and railways that must be maintained during a strike.

“No one denies the unions freedom to strike, but it is also important to balance that with people’s right to have access to lifesaving health care,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Authorities: Woman sent to Iowa funeral home was alive

A continuing care home in suburban Des Moines, Iowa, has been fined $10,000 after a funeral home discovered a woman sent to it in a body bag was still alive. The Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals said in a report filed Wednesday that the 66-year-old woman was declared dead at the Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Kohl’s names Tom Kingsbury as permanent CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — Kohl’s said Thursday it has named acting CEO Tom Kingsbury as its permanent leader. Kingsbury, a Kohl’s board member with more than 40 years experience in retail, has served as an interim CEO since early December, when Michelle Gass left the department store chain to become president of jeans maker Levi […]
17 hours ago
CORRECTS THAT PLANTS ARE FORMERLY OWNED BY FIRSTENERGY -  Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Household...
Associated Press

‘Boom’: FirstEnergy exec text revels in landing state plane

CINCINNATI (AP) — New details emerged Thursday at the trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on the use of the state plane scheduled to bring state lawmakers back to Columbus to vote on the now-tainted nuclear bailout legislation at the heart of Ohio’s largest ever corruption case. Text messages presented to jurors in […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Republican Gov. Tate Reeves outlines his priorities during his State of the State address on...
Associated Press

Doctor, GOP governor clash over private Medicaid discussion

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said in a private conversation that expanding Medicaid to people working low-wage jobs would be in the best interest of the state, but that he refuses to support the policy for political reasons, a former chancellor of the University of Mississippi said Thursday. Dr. Dan Jones […]
17 hours ago
FILE - This Wednesday, July 24, 2019 photo shows an Apple Store in Chicago is seen. Apple reports f...
Associated Press

Apple suffers 1st quarterly sales decline in nearly 4 years

Apple on Thursday posted its first quarterly revenue drop in nearly four years after pandemic-driven restrictions on its China factories curtailed sales of the latest iPhone during the holiday season. The company’s sales of $117 billion for the October-December period represented a 5% decline from the same time in the previous year, a deeper downturn […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Low water levels at Wahweap Bay at Lake Powell along the Upper Colorado River Basin are show...
Associated Press

Interior: $580M headed to 15 tribes to fulfill water rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fifteen Native American tribes will get a total of $580 million in federal money this year for water rights settlements, the Biden administration announced Thursday. The money will help carry out the agreements that define the tribes’ rights to water from rivers and other sources and pay for pipelines, pumping stations, and […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
UK ambulance workers walk out, joining wave of strike action