Paramedics and NHS staff in strike action

NHS workers across 1066 Country, including nurses, midwives and ambulance staff, staged a four-hour strike on Monday (October 13).

Scores of workers picketed outside the Conquest Hospital and local ambulance stations.

Members of trade unions such as Unison, the GMB and the Royal College of Midwives took part in the industrial action, which was part of a nationwide strike.

Trade unions want a one per cent pay rise for all NHS staff, but the Government has said the proposal would cost too much.

Last year, the independent NHS Pay Review Body said that all NHS staff in England deserved a one per cent pay rise from April 1, 2014.

However, Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, cancelled the recommended across-the-board increase, saying only those NHS employees who do not receive annual pay increments would get the rise.

Joanne Thompson, a Conquest midwife, took part in Monday’s strike after finishing a night shift. She said the Government’s move was ‘derisory’.

“Midwives have never been on strike before but we feel we are being shafted. The country already has a shortage of midwives and we are often short-staffed,” she said.

Richard Sunley, chief operating officer for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs both the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH, said: “Our overriding objective during this period of industrial action was to ensure we could continue to provide high quality and safe services to our patients.

“We made sure we had sufficient staff on duty and we did not experience any disruption to our hospital or community services.”

Richard Airey, spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), said: “We would like to thank the public and staff for their support during Monday morning’s national industrial action. Staff responded well across the 999, patient transport and 111 services.

“Prior to Monday’s action we had worked closely with union representatives to ensure the impact on patients was kept to a minimum.

“We had robust contingency plans in place to ensure we could provide a safe and responsive service to those people who needed us.

“‘Action short of a strike’ will follow at periods throughout this week until Sunday (October 19). We will again be working closely with union representatives to minimise the impact of the action.

“We would like to take this opportunity to remind the public that calling 999 should be reserved for serious emergencies and thank them for their ongoing support.”