UK medical staff end four-hour strike

Thousands of nurses, midwives and ambulance staff, who were on a four-hour strike over payment rise, ended their protest on Monday morning.

PTI| Updated: Oct 13, 2014, 19:27 PM IST

London: Thousands of nurses, midwives and ambulance staff, who were on a four-hour strike over payment rise, ended their protest on Monday morning.

Workers of Britain's National Health Service (NHS) from six trade unions went on a strike for four hours today for the first time in 30 years to protest against the government's decision to deny them a one per cent pay rise.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) participated in its first strike since it was founded in 1881.

Services have been disrupted in the wake of the strike although emergency services were kept running as was agreed by the unions and NHS bosses before the walkout.

Ahead of the strike, unions and managers had met to ensure that essential services were maintained.

Military personnel and police were also put on stand-by to help provide ambulance services if needed.

Hospital staff were also seen leaving the picket lines to deal with patients in some places.

Union leaders had always said their members will be providing "life and limb" cover during the strike.

The expectation was that 999 calls would be answered and A&E units would remain open.

The dispute involves more than 400,000 NHS staff, who have been hit by pay freezes or below-inflation rises, since the Conservative-led coalition came to power in 2010.

Ministers say a universal pay rise would be unaffordable and result in the loss of 6,000 nursing jobs.

"Up and down the country, hundreds of thousands of workers are out fighting for fair pay and for the NHS. The fact that so many unions representing a range of NHS workers are taking action should send a clear message to the government," National Officer of Unison Trade Union Christina McAnea said.

"The NHS relies on the good will of its workers, but we know that a demotivated workforce is bad for patients. The government needs to start negotiating with us and reconsider their pay policy," McAnea said.