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NHS staff take part in strike action across Norfolk and Suffolk

09:57 13 October 2014

Queen Elizabeth Hospital staff on strike. Picture: Ian Burt

Queen Elizabeth Hospital staff on strike. Picture: Ian Burt

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Thousands of health workers went on strike today in protest at the Government’s controversial decision not to give them a 1pc pay rise, including midwives taking action for the first time in their history.

Health workers, including nurses and midwives, on strike for four hours at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHealth workers, including nurses and midwives, on strike for four hours at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Several trade unions were involved in the action, including those representing nurses, paramedics, hospital porters and ambulance crews as well as the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The dispute involves over 400,000 NHS staff, who have been hit by pay freezes or below inflation rises since the coalition came to power in 2010.

The chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) praised front-line staff for ensuring life-threatening cases were still answered today.

About 14pc of the ambulance service’s front-line workforce on duty went on full strike, with a further 31pc working under exemptions, meaning they still responded to the most seriously ill patients.

Health workers, including nurses and midwives, on strike for four hours at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Judi Roper, front, blue coat, midwife and steward of the Royal College of Midwives. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHealth workers, including nurses and midwives, on strike for four hours at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Judi Roper, front, blue coat, midwife and steward of the Royal College of Midwives. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Average response times were increased during the four hour strike.

Anthony Marsh, trust chief cxecutive, said: “I would like to thank all our staff for their continuous and ongoing commitment today and during the industrial action, including working under exemption. We appreciate it is a difficult position to take; however it does enable us to provide the best care possible for patients.

“We’re aware of cases where those taking full strike action responded to potentially life-threatened patients which is very encouraging.

“It is of vital importance that we ensure as far as possible our service, and more importantly our patients, do not suffer as a result of this national issue. In the hours following the strike, we’re returning to ‘business as usual’ as quickly as possible and I’d like to thank the public and patients for their support today.”

Queen Elizabeth Hospital staff on strike. Picture: Ian BurtQueen Elizabeth Hospital staff on strike. Picture: Ian Burt

Fraer Stevenson, Unison branch secretary for the ambulance service, added: “NHS staff care deeply about their patients, and taking part in industrial action is a very difficult thing.

“We worked closely with the ambulance trust to provide exemptions that many staff chose to work under, ensuring we could still respond to patients needing an emergency response. It’s evident from the huge amount of support shown to staff today; the public hold the ambulance service in high regard for the difficult and vital roles we undertake. I hope the government reconsiders their stance over refusing to accept the pay review recommendations, and enters into meaningful talks with Unison to resolve this dispute.”

Harry Seddon, Unison’s branch secretary at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: “NHS staff are always reluctant to take any form of industrial action, and in fact this is the first NHS strike over pay for 35 years.

“I would like the public to recognise that while this is about NHS Pay, our members are also concerned about the bigger picture, the underfunding of the NHS, the incessant pressure they are working under and the tremendous effort we are all making to deliver good care in the face of enormous demand – demand for which NHS organisations are not getting enough money.”

A spokesman from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn said the strike would have “no effect at all on patient care”.

Contingency plans had been worked out, and union members will deal with emergencies.

The strike will be followed by other forms of industrial action for the rest of the week, leading up to a national demonstration in London on Saturday organised by the TUC under the banner, Britain Needs A Pay Rise.

Unions are protesting at the Government’s decision not to accept the independent pay review body’s recommendation to award a 1pc pay rise to all staff. Instead, ministers took the “divisive” decision to only award a 1pc pay rise for those on top of their pay band, which unions say has denied the 1% increase to 60pc of NHS workers.

Christina McAnea, national officer of Unison, said: “This is the first time in 32 years that NHS workers take industrial action over pay, and for many, it will be the first time. Up and down the country, hundreds of thousands of workers are out fighting for fair pay and for the NHS.”

20 comments

  • This comment had been removed so I felt the need to re post it. I may have taken a hard stance but my real point is employees in essential services shouldn't be able to go on strike. And people shouldn't be censored because they said something others don't agree with.

    Report this comment

    Z:)

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

  • Lucky to have a job....you'll be saying we should pay to work next and accept beatings if we make a mistake. You'll be lucky to have a NHS if the ConDems get elected in May, but then of course you probably won't care because you can afford private healthcare.

    Report this comment

    Jonny

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

  • Should think themselves lucky they have a job which is one they wanted and chose to do. As for the wasted money on broken appointments, these should be charged for.

    Report this comment

    Lynda

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

  • Well Jonny it is being reported that less thanone in ten of Unison members eligible to vote, voted to strike. And the result of today`s strike? Not very well supported at all. Everyone choosing not to workhas lost 4 hours pay and the inconvenience to the general public? Negligible. So what was the point of it all. I suppose we will see more of this nonsense on the lead up to the General Election with the union barons flexing their muscles or should that be their egos.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • We had a bigger deficit as a % of the economy under Thatcher & Atlees, the latter government of course invested big time in public services. Fair pay increases for public sector workers is affordable. As for making it illegal to strike, that is just nonsense. Employers can treat staff exactly how they like and at a time when full time jobs are scarce; you are saying the only option for the worker should be to resign. Victorian values indeed; you'll have kids back in factories next.

    Report this comment

    Jonny

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • Peter Watson I know not about what you are on about. Its either a 1% rise or an average 3% rise depending whether you are due an incremental pay rise or not this year. Even the labour party are not arguing with that.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • This 1% pay incr WAS agreed by the independent pay review and Government have rejected it. Also Andrew Langley admits the Government wasted £5b on the reorganisation of the NHS. Nurses also agree a contract and it is the Government who have again broken it. So in all fairness who can blame the nurses? No money????? It depends what you are spending it on....wars, bailing out bankers etc...

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • Paul H - The figure of £300 million in wasted hospital appointments pales into insignificance when compared to the number of broken GP appointments. During 2013 over 17 million patients missed their GP appointment. This abuse of the system is financial madness and is a contributory factor in why some patients can't get to see their own GP when they need to. There may well be huge problems with funding the NHS but there is also huge waste and unnecessary pressure caused by the public themselves. This problem isn't new, it didn't just occur, but it has been allowed to gain pace under successive flavours of government. There may not be easily accessed money for this pay rise but there is a huge amount of money being wasted which this government has done nothing about!

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • I really think my previous post speaks for itself when there is an article in the EDP today which states that the three main hospitals in Norfolk have seen £10 million pounds wasted by patients breaking their appointments? This figure alone shows the nonsense of providing a completely free NHS. The figures provided by the NHS show that last year over £300 million was wasted on broken appointments. That figure is a national disgrace and especially when the NHS research suggests that over 60% of broken appointments are down to patient apathy. It would appear that to me the this government is more prepared for a confrontation with NHS staff over a pay increase than to look at the enormous waste caused by people who abuse the system?

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • I'm watching people strike who have been in job less time than I have and who are less qualified complain about pay to do same jobs as me. I don't get paid as much as them. I don't get enhancement for nights or weekends. I get less holiday. I work 10 hours a week more. But I'm not on strike. Why? I have chosen to not work for the NHS and have opted for a private health provider. When I signed my contract I knew what my pay was, I knew what my hours would be, and I knew how much holiday I would get, so I have no grounds to complain. You cant sign a contract than complain that you want more after.

    Report this comment

    Panda

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • Bad you talk a lot of good sense.But and I mean but, if you haven't got the money you cannot afford wage increases.Unless the public wants more taxes or in business model borrow as the successive governments did with the Private Finance Initiative building hospitals.like the U,N&N which is still being paid for.till 2038.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • @BG.What you are describing are the strings you have attached to the offer.Withdraw the strings and make it a "No Strings" offer,similar to bankers' no strings agreement with government.Bankers don't have strings so why should health workers?

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • catalonia13 MPS haven`t awarded themselves anything. It is an independent body that has made the recommendation which is all it is t the moment. MPs don`t want it, but the pay body wants to bring it in against their wishes. In today's political climate I don't think it will go ahead.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • The detail of this piece is wrong. The facts are: Ministers took the decision to award a 1% pay rise for those ON TOP of their pay band but not to those on "progression pay increase", who automatically get a fixed average pay increase of 3%. There is no mention of that in Rosa`s piece. Now the 3% pay rise which is not based on experience but just length of service seems pretty fair to me.I do wish the EDP would tell all of the story and not just half of it.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • Paul H - The NHS is effectively bankrupt. It lurches from crisis to crisis and one of the reasons is because no government has the courage to tell the electorate what they don't want to hear and that is free healthcare is no longer affordable. Regrettably, both Labour and this government have messed about with the finances. Under the last Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, millions were wasted with his unwanted and abortive Health & Social Care Act so it is hardly appropriate to then try and present this government as being any more competent with the NHS than Labour. Unfortunately, the NHS is facing a record deficit of of over £500 million and a projected funding gap of £2 billion. The biggest single cost to the NHS is staff wages so one has to assume that this is one area that will figure prominently now and in the future for more cuts. Rather than attack staff wages why doesn't the government come clean and tell the public the truth. The truth is either taxes will have to rise or charging will have to be introduced. You can't have an ageing population, increasingly sophisticated and expensive treatments, and a dedicated and professional workforce under the current model. Denying staff a pay increase won't solve the fundamental problems facing the NHS!

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • First of all thats get the facts straight then we can have a debate.The 10% pay rise was recommended by an independent pay body and was rejected by this Government as inappropriate when other public sector workers had their pay frozen.Unlike City and Councilors expenses increase, ,infact Ministers had to take a pay cut. Secondly Peter Watson we have a extremely large credit card bill to pay,of in the region of 76 billion in interest racked up by your mates Millaband and Balls.Both who I might add are sponsored by the striking Unions. My wife was a nurse and Member of the Royal College of Nurses she just now told me nurses would not strike,and midwifes are not nurses if they do.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • And, 11% for MPs, 20% for company directors!.......Good luck to the NHS staff! Cos we're all in it together ;-)

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • In this modern day and age, it is time that striking (certainly of public sector workers) is made illegal. If some doesn’t like their pay or the terms of employment, they are perfectly free to go and see what other jobs are available with better pay and conditions.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • It wasn't midwives and radiographers who caused the financial crash,it was the bankers, so why are health workers being made to suffer and not those spivs and speculators who were responsible?

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Monday, October 13, 2014

  • I don't blame them, key workers doing a vital job that we all need, its disgusting and so wrong, yet the MP's (who earn 1000's more) manage to give themselves a 10% rise :(

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Monday, October 13, 2014

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