NHS staff are set to come together to rally in Birmingham ahead of a strike ballot over pay.
Healthcare activists from across the city and the West Midlands will gather in Birmingham city centre on Thursday (24 November) to demand that the government takes action to ‘defend the NHS and protect services.’
Nurses, paramedics and hospital staff are planning to coordinate strikes over the winter “to cause maximum disruption to the NHS”.
The six largest health unions - Unite, GMB, Unison, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Royal College of Midwives and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy - have held talks about launching a series of walkouts at the same time.
Representatives of all six major unions attended a crunch meeting with the Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Tuesday (22 November) with an announcement of strike dates expected in the following days if an agreement over pay is not reached.
The NHS faces disruption on a historic scale this winter as nurses will walk out before the end of the year at most hospitals, including cancer and children’s units, in a dispute that could last until spring and affect hundreds of thousands of patients.
Vast swathes of NHS workers have voted in favour of strike action in a Unison ballot of 400,000 NHS workers in England, Scotland and Wales.
The Royal College of Midwives has launched a four-week ballot of eligible members in England and Wales on 11 November - it will be the first time the union has held a strike in its 106 year history. No dates have yet been announced.
What has Unite said about the Birmingham rally?
NHS workers who are members of Unite will be joined by Unite general secretary Sharon Graham and delegates from the union’s sector conferences who are meeting in Birmingham this week.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Workers from across the NHS are at the end of their tethers. They are absolutely dedicated to providing a first class service for patients but due to chronic long-term underfunding that is increasingly becoming impossible.
“NHS workers are balloting for strike action as a last resort. They are doing it to protect the long-term future of the NHS and force the government to listen and take action to preserve the service.”
Which NHS Trusts in and around Birmingham will go on strike?
Many of the biggest hospitals in England will see strike action by RCN members.
Thousands of NHS operations and appointments are likely to be cancelled, as the health service treat emergency patients in a “life-preserving care model”.
The RCN has not yet released the strike dates, however they are expected to begin before the end of this year and the mandate to organise strikes runs until early May 2023, six months after members finished voting.
Only NHS trusts or health boards where voting passed the legal threshold for industrial action will be affected by strikes. However this is the majoirty of NHS employers across the UK.
Here are all of the West Midlands Trusts which have voted to strike:
- Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
- Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
- The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
- Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust
- University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
- Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
- Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust
- NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB (BSol ICB)
- NHS Black Country ICB