Now the physios will strike as more staff join winter walk-out chaos

Now the physios will strike! Another NHS union adds to winter walk-out chaos

  • NHS physios in England will walk of the job on both January 26 and February 9
  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the latest NHS union to announce strikes
  • Union bosses said two strike days are also being planned for February and March
  • Announcement means NHS faces five days of industrial action in January alone
  • AMBULANCE STRIKE LIVE: NHS workers walk-out TODAY after public warned to only call medics for a ‘life or limb’ emergency 

Physiotherapists will join the ever-growing wave of NHS strikes this winter, union bosses announced today.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) will arrange walk-outs on January 26 and February 9 in a dispute over pay and staffing in England.

It means they will join tens of thousands of NHS ambulance staff, as well as nurses, in taking to picket lines later this month. Junior doctors have threatened a 72-hour walk-out in the spring.

CSP bosses said the first wave of strikes will see up to 4,200 NHS staff employed at 30 trusts walk away from their jobs later this month.

NHS physiotherapists are heading to the picket lines becoming the latest health service staff group to announce their dates for strike action (stock image)

NHS staff deserve a pay increase of at least five per cent, NHS managers said in a submission to pay review bodies.

Up to 25,000 GMB and Unison ambulance workers are striking today after rejecting a 4.75 per cent average pay increase as hopes rise that further strikes might be called off.  

The public has been told only to dial 999 in ‘life and limb’ emergencies today as doctors are drafted in to help direct ambulances to patients as efficiently as possible. 

Government sources have suggested that there are concerns about safety during today’s strikes, emphasising that there is a lack of agreement over emergency protocols. 

Ministers are currently working on proposals for the pay review bodies for the next pay round and have suggested pay could be improved if unions commit to productivity goals. 

Today’s strikes come after NHS workers in England and Wales rejected a pay rise averaging 4.75 per cent. 

All were guaranteed an increase of at least £1,400 a year – more than 7% for the lowest paid.

But a recent survey of NHS Providers members for the 2023/2024 pay review saw 75 per cent of staff demand at least a 5 per cent increase.  

Thirty one per cent of NHS Providers members surveyed said an uplift of five per cent would be appropriate as a starting point for the 2023-2024 pay round, with only one respondent to the survey suggesting a figure below this. 

Nearly 30 per cent of respondents supported increases of between six and eight per cent and 16 per cent said more than 10 per cent was necessary, the document, which was published before Christmas, says. 

The survey also suggested that the vast majority of trusts are concerned about staff burnout and morale. 

The union warned that staff working at another 30 NHS trusts will take part in a follow-up strike in February if demands are not met. 

Specific trusts where the strike action will take place will be announced two weeks before each industrial action. 

Union officials have said the public can expect a ‘Christmas Day’ level of physiotherapy services on strike days.

Claire Sullivan, director of employer Relations and union Services at the CSP, said the action was a ‘last resort’.  

‘NHS staff not only deserve better pay but also desperately need it during this cost of living crisis,’ she said. 

‘This dispute will protect patient services both now and into the future, and it’s essential that the government comes up with an improved offer to avert further strikes and demonstrate they understand the scale of the problem.’

The union said further strikes for England will happen unless the Government refuses to shift on pay.

Similar to other unions orchestrating strikes within the NHS, the CPS wants an above-inflation pay rise for physios.

It follows the results of a strike ballot in December in which 84 per cent of voting members were in favour of taking to the picket line.

This gave it a mandate to hold a strike at 112 NHS organisations in England, and every NHS health board in Wales.

The figure represents just over half of the 204 NHS employers balloted in England.

No strike dates for Wales have been announced but the union said it would release more details in the coming weeks. 

The announcement comes as the CPS was among a host of unions who declared they would boycott the Government’s NHS Pay Review Board process this year. 

A total of 15 unions representing NHS staff have announced they will not participate in process this year which is meant to make a recommendation to Government on pay for health service workers.

Unions have said they are increasingly unhappy with the system, which while ministers insist is independent, is appointed by the Government.

Instead union bosses say they want to negotiate with ministers directly on pay. 

Commenting on the move CPS assistant director of employment relations Elaine Sparkes said: ‘Solving the pay dispute, getting vacancy rates down and providing better patient care must be the government’s number one priority.

The announcement from the  Chartered Society of Physiotherapy comes as up to 25,000 ambulance staff held strike action today in their own  dispute with Government on pay. Pictured: Ambulance workers on strike outside East Midlands Ambulance Service today

‘But even if the review body process were to be hurried along as the health secretary says he’s keen to do, it would still take too long.’

‘Speed is of the essence, as is ensuring wages are high enough for the NHS to retain experienced staff and attract new recruits. Only direct talks can achieve that.’

The CPS were also among the unions that met with Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Monday in an attempt to avert further strike action.  

While union bosses described the meeting as ‘constructive’ they said nothing ‘tangible’ was offered to convince them to suspend the strikes. 

The announcement of the physio strike dates adds to a growing calendar of NHS industrial action this winter.

NHS ambulance staff were on the picket line again today in their own dispute over pay and staffing, following similar action in December.

Another ambulance strike is currently planned for January 23.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are also scheduled to hold more strikes on January 18 and 19.

This follows two days of strike action by RCN members in December which led to the cancellation of thousands of NHS appointments and planned procedures.

And, in addition to physios, more NHS staff groups could also join strike action.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is currently balloting its junior doctor members on holding a 72-hour strike in March which will include withdrawing emergency care.

Union bosses are campaigning for a 26 per cent pay rise they say is needed to restore junior medics pay over years of below inflation pay rises. 

But Health Secretary Steve Barclay has repeatedly said NHS union demands for inflation busting pay rises are unrealistic and would have to come at the cost of patient care.

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