Blog: Why won’t the chancellor resolve the NHS strike?

Jeremy Hunt knows knows what’s needed, so why isn’t he acting?

Portrait of Christina McAnea

UNISON’s industrial action in the NHS intensifies this week. Today is our third day of strikes this winter in England, and NHS staff in Northern Ireland will be out on Thursday.

Ambulance and hospital staff are walking out again over the government’s failure to deliver fair pay. Today’s morning news bulletins are already featuring our picket lines, and our head of health, Sara Gorton, was on breakfast news helping to get our #PutNHSPayRight message out to the public.

We’re also in the middle of re-balloting ambulance branches that fell just short of the government’s draconian ballot thresholds in our ballot last year.

If you’re a member working at Bridgewater Community Healthcare Trust, East Midlands Ambulance Service, East of England Ambulance Service, Great Ormond Street, Liverpool Women’s Hospital, NHS Blood and Transplant, South Central Ambulance Service, South East Coast Ambulance Foundation Trust, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, West Midlands Ambulance Service or Welsh Ambulance Services, make sure you look out for your postal ballot paper, vote ‘yes’, and return it as soon as possible.

Getting more ‘yes’ votes from our members in the ambulance service will build more pressure on the government to put a pay offer on the table to resolve the dispute.

But the man who seems to be blocking this is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It’s within Jeremy Hunt’s power to find the money to deliver a fair pay increase.

He knows this is what’s needed to help fix the crisis in the NHS, because he made the case for this while he was health select committee chair. He also knows how to resolve a trade dispute in the NHS, because he negotiated a wage deal in 2015 when he was health secretary. We are left wondering, what’s holding him back?

Whatever the reason, until there are genuine negotiations, our dispute will continue. If you’re on strike today, it’s important to remember that your action is making a difference. You are continuing to highlight the unfair pay you’ve had to put up with and the deep problems in the NHS it’s causing, and piling pressure on government ministers.

Even if you’re not on strike, you can still show your support.

Please have a look at our guide to the five ways you can support ambulance and hospital workers.