Thousands of UK ambulance staff walk out over wages

Photo by Ian Taylor/

British government puts the army on standby to help and say the strike comes at a time when the National Health Services is already facing major pressure 

Ambulance workers across England and Wales staged a walkout over a demand from the government to increase their salaries. According to a report by Reuters said, thousands of workers took part in the strike on Wednesday, December 21, after the government failed to offer a solution to resolve the dispute.  

The strike caused a major strain on the state-funded National Health Services (NHS) at a time when they were already facing pressure. The government, while advising people not to take risks, said, “The deeply regrettable strike would result in fewer ambulances on the road, with only the most urgent life-threatening cases such as heart attacks prioritized”.  

A statement in the report by Steve Barclay, health and social care secretary said, that the unions had not been willing to work with the government to agree on national exemptions “in terms of covering all of the category one, category two, life-threatening and emergency calls”.  

After Barclay´s statement, Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, one of the unions organizing the strike, said she was shocked by the comments made by him. She said, the Health and social care secretary was aware that the unions had detailed plans in place for local areas.  

A quote by McAnea´s counterpart Sharon Graham at the Unite union said, “All category one calls would be answered, while category two calls, which includes conditions like strokes, would be assessed by healthcare workers”. Graham also said, “The government needs to get back to the negotiating table so we can get a proper pay rise for these workers and everyone can go back to work.”  

The British government has announced that the army has been put on standby to help drive and direct emergency vehicles.

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