Staff with expert view of NHS crisis to strike over pay and staffing

Government must move on wages

Several hundred staff working for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are taking strike action today (Tuesday) over pay and staffing, says their union UNISON.

The strike will be followed by four days when the NICE employees, who belong to UNISON and are based in Manchester and London, will work to rule.

This means the staff, who advise the NHS on the best drugs and treatments available for patients, will only work the hours set out in their contracts and refuse any overtime.

NICE workers also played a critical role during the pandemic, providing guidance on the best ways of treating the various medical conditions caused by Covid.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “The staff at NICE are critical to ensuring the NHS provides the most effective drugs and treatments to patients. They can see only too well the unbearable pressure across all parts of the health service.

“No one wants to strike. But the hope is the action taken by key health staff proves enough to convince the chancellor he needs to act now to improve NHS pay. The need for urgent talks to resolve the dispute is becoming more pressing by the day.”

UNISON NICE joint branch secretary Trudie Pandolfo, who works on NICE’s public involvement programme, said: “At NICE, my colleagues and I work with all parts of the NHS – including public health, clinical services, social care – so have a proper bird’s-eye view of just how bad things have become.

“Unless the government acts quickly to boost pay across the NHS, services will soon be unable to function, let alone provide decent patient care. The NHS and the public deserve much better from this government.”

Notes to editors:
-There will be a picket outside the NICE offices in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester today, with a rally in support of striking NHS workers beginning at 12.30pm.
-Ambulance staff belonging to UNISON took strike action last week (11 January) at five services in England – London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West – over pay and staffing. The next strike is planned for Monday (23 January). That same day, NHS staff belonging to UNISON and working at the Liverpool University Hospitals Trust and the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital are also due to take strike action. The union is re-balloting ambulance workers at five ambulance services in England (South East Coast, South Central, East of England, West Midlands and East Midlands) and the Welsh Ambulance Service. This began on 6 January and continues until Monday 16 February.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union and the largest union in the NHS and in the ambulance sector, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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