NHS strike called off at the 11th hour

A previous strike
A previous strike
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Planned strikes by health workers in a row over pay have been suspended after a breakthrough in talks.

Members of Unison, the GMB and Unite were due to walk out in Lancashire tomorrow and again next month in protest at the Government’s refusal to accept a recommended 1 per cent wage rise for all NHS staff.

Extensive talks between union leaders and officials at the Health Department led to fresh proposals which will now be put to workers.

The North West Ambulance Service, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust, Lancashire Care and other services in the county had been gearing up for the strike, with appointments cancelled and people told to expect disruption.

Ambulance bosses even admitted they had put a request in to the army for help should they have needed it.

The strikes had been due to run for 12 hours throughout the day - starting at different points of the day - rather than the previous four hour strikes which were held last year.

A march had also been planned to take place in Preston city centre.

While union bosses say the new offer does address some issues they aren’t ruling out further action if members aren’t happy.

Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea said: “The two strike days staged by health workers last year have moved the government to negotiate with the unions.

“This isn’t a great offer but it addresses some of the key concerns unions have about low pay in the NHS.

“In the interest of patients’ safety unions will now consult members. It will be up to members to decide whether to accept or reject the proposals. If they choose to reject them we will move to further industrial action.”

The GMB said it will consult 22,000 of its members in the NHS in England and Northern Ireland on the new offer that emerged after a week of talks.

A national meeting of the union’s NHS committee will take place on February 4, when a timetable for a consultation will be agreed.

National officer Rehana Azam said: “GMB is pleased that after a week of talks we have secured a new offer. This enables us to suspend the strike action while we consult with our members on whether they wish to accept the offer or not.”