Ambulance strikes Leeds: NHS worker says 'patients are dying' while waiting in hospital
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NHS staff taking industrial action in the city have warned that “things have got to change” as they demand better pay and working conditions. Thousands of ambulance workers across the UK are staging the third strike in five weeks in the bitter dispute over pay. Further strikes are planned in the coming weeks by nurses and other NHS workers.
On the picket line in Leeds, emergency care assistant Bronte Williams said: “Working conditions are not great. It’s not fair for the patients or the crews that we work with. I think things have got to change.”
Ms Williams added: “Also, patients are losing their faith in the NHS. The one thing that does get to me are the waiting times at hospital. We’ve been usually waiting an hour to hand over. It never used to be like that. The NHS is pushed to its limits and we can’t keep up with it.”
Ms Williams continued: “We need better working conditions, we need a pay rise and we just need more faith from the Government as well.”
Also in Leeds, ambulance practitioner Lyndsay Jephson said: “Patients are in corridors, we’re waiting in corridors. I’ve waited myself up to six hours, my colleagues have waited up to 16 hours in a corridor with patients who need urgent medical attention. It’s not fair and it’s not good enough for our patients.”
Ms Jephson added: “Patients are dying while they are waiting for appointments and that is what this is about. Me and my colleagues do not want to be striking. We want to be out there dealing with patients.”
Paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians, other 999 crew members and control room staff across five services in England – London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West – joined picket lines today.
The Prime Minister has said he is not able to “wave a magic wand” to resolve the bitter dispute over pay among NHS staff. Rishi Sunak said that giving pay rises to striking staff – including ambulance workers and nurses – would lead to money being taken away from “elsewhere in the NHS budget”.
Thousands of nurses and ambulance workers are due to stage walkouts on February 6 if no deal has been reached by then – potentially the biggest day of strikes in the history of the health service.
Speaking on the picket line in Leeds, Unison union head of health Sara Gorton said: “I’m really confident that it can be resolved. Unison and other trade unions stand ready and willing to work with the Government to negotiate our way out of this impasse.
"It is the hope of everybody taking strike action or providing emergency cover today that we can do that, and that the Government provides a commitment to boost funding for pay and for staffing the NHS, and that we can get round a table. That’s all it will take – a commitment.”