Nurses and ambulance staff at Chorley join 1,000s of others in the NHS's biggest strike in history

Nurses and ambulance staff at Chorley have joined the thousands of others across England for a walk out in support of pay claims, which is thought to be the biggest strike in the history of the NHS.

Industrial action today (Monday, February 6), marks the first time the two groups have staged stoppages on the same day during the current wave of disputes affecting public services, and it prompted NHS Providers to urge the public to use emergency services “wisely”, warning the whole service was approaching a “crunch point”.

Explaining the “variety of reasons” for their industural action, one union member in Chorley said: “We do have a lot of our staff who are struggling to make ends meet because of the cost living and we’re here to support those, but also at the heart of this, patients are coming to harm everyday, they’re sat outside A and E’s in ambulances – can't get in – suffering harm, deteriorating, some patients are dying, and patients can’t get an ambulance in the community because we haven't got the resources because they’re sat outside emergency care.

“That is heartbreaking, it’s tragic for those families and those patients but that has an impact on our staff day in and day out, seeing and dealing with that, so there are a whole host of things going on and this comes back to years and years of underfunding in the system.

“We’ve been trying to address that by talking with governments for many years and nothing’s happened and we’ve got to this point now where, many a time, we’ve got hundreds of patients in the North West who are waiting for ambulances, and we know they’re suffering, so it's come to industrial action. For the government and the media, nationally, to be speaking about this, that breaks our hearts, we’d stop this tomorrow if the government would get around the table and negotiate with our unions about pay and conditions and patient safety.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which is staging two days of action, said that it has called out twice as many of its members than it did during earlier strikes in December and January. Meanwhile ambulance crews and call handlers will return to work on Tuesday but are then due to walk out again on Friday.

Whilst ambulance staff and nurses were pictured striking in Chorley today, across the region, in Preston, industrial action was also taking place, as can be read here.

Take a look at the scenes in Chorley below.