Ambulance strikes: Hereford paramedics back on the picket line today

Ambulance workers on the picket line in Hereford in December. Picture: Charlotte Moreau
Ambulance workers on the picket line in Hereford in December. Picture: Charlotte Moreau

AMBULANCE staff in Herefordshire are striking again today as they call for better pay and conditions.

Almost 1,000 ambulance workers across the West Midlands have walked out today (January 23), including workers at Hereford's ambulance hub.

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff across the region will walk out from midnight to 11.59pm.

Major pickets will be staged in Hereford, Stoke, Donnington, and Dudley.

Workers voted to strike over the Government’s imposed four per cent pay award, which they say is another massive real terms pay cut.

Ambulance workers in Hereford first took to the picket line for the first time in a generation in December.

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Mark Smith, who has been a paramedic for 40 years and is the Hereford GMB union branch secretary, was one of those on the picket line outside Hereford's Ross Road ambulance station in December.

Mr Smith, who served three years in the army as a medic and four years as a nurse in the NHS before joining the ambulance service, said he and his colleagues were deeply saddened to have been compelled into this situation, but that they were also deeply saddened to see patients sitting in ambulances outside hospitals for hours and hours, knowing there is very little they can do for them.

"It is not what we signed up for," Mr Smith said last month.

"We see us being talked about on TV as ambulance drivers, and we are not. It's an insult. These guys have trained for years, and we are being put into a position where we cannot care for our patients.

"I do this job because I care."

But, Mr Smith said, current working conditions are unacceptable for paramedics and ambulance staff and affecting not only the care and service they can give their patients, but also their home and family lives.

READ MORE: Herefordshire paramedics on the picket line: "this is not what we signed up for"

Stuart Richards, GMB Senior Organiser, said: “West Midlands ambulance workers’ message is clear - the Government must talk pay now.

“While the NHS crumbles around our ears – despite ambulance workers desperate efforts – we have been waiting two weeks today for another meeting with Ministers.

“Instead of working to solve the problems, this Government has demonised the ambulance workers who provided life and limb cover on strike days.

“The only way to solve this dispute is a proper pay offer. We are waiting.”

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