pay deal between the Government and unions representing ambulance staff could be on the horizon after major strikes were suspended.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has said he “wants to start talks ASAP” with Unison and GMB unions after they called off industrial action which would have involved tens of thousands of key workers walking out next week.
Unison and GMB made the decision after the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said money was available for potential pay rises covering this year and next.
Some 32,000 NHS workers would have been involved in planned Unison strikes – including 24,500 ambulance staff – while 13,000 ambulance workers were part of the GMB action.
However, Unite union said it will still be going ahead with strikes on Monday and Wednesday over what it calls “unreasonable pre-conditions” for negotiations imposed by the DHSC.
The Health Secretary has said he is keen to agree a “fair deal” with Unison and GMB, and called on Unite to “join other unions at the negotiating table”.
Mr Barclay said: “I’m pleased unions representing the majority of ambulance workers, nurses and physios have agreed to pause strikes and begin formal talks.
“I want to start these talks ASAP to find a fair deal. I call on Unite to end strikes and join other unions at the negotiating table.”
GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said the Government’s latest concession marks a “huge shift” in its position, but warned that “the strike will return with a vengeance should talks break down”.
Unison’s Sara Gorton said that industrial action would resume if discussions were not “meaningful”.
On Monday, Unite members at ambulance trusts in the West Midlands, North West, South Central, South Coastal, and East Midlands will strike.
This marks the first time that Unite members in South Central and South Coastal have taken industrial action.
Members in Yorkshire, who are also striking for the first time, will take industrial action on Wednesday.