The one area where ambulance staff are not going on strike this Christmas

An ambulance goes past the emergency department of University College Hospital after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which represents close to half a million nurses, announced nurses have voted to strike in the majority of NHS employers in a row over pay, the first UK-wide strike action in its 106-year history. Picture date: Wednesday November 9, 2022.
Thousands of ambulance staff are set to strike later this month. (PA)

More than 10,000 ambulance workers in England and Wales will go on strike this Christmas, it has been announced.

Unions said on Tuesday that strike action would place on 21 December because of a row over pay.

Of the 10 NHS Ambulance Trusts in England, only one will not be affected by the strike – East of England Ambulance Service. A spokesman confirmed to Yahoo News UK that staff there have not agreed to walk out.

It covers an area of about 7,500 square miles containing more than six million people across the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

However, strikes will affect ambulance services in the rest of England, and in Wales, where Welsh Ambulance Service staff will walk out.

Watch: Contingency plans for strikes must be made, says health secretary

The GMB, Unison and Unite unions are co-ordinating industrial action after accusing the government of ignoring pleas for an above-inflation pay rise.

The strike will happen a day after members of the Royal College of Nursing stage their second walkout, also over pay.

The GMB said more than 10,000 of its ambulance workers across nine trusts in England and Wales will strike.

GMB members will strike at South West Ambulance Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service, North West Ambulance Service, South Central Ambulance Service, North East Ambulance Service, East Midlands Ambulance Service, West Midlands Ambulance Service, Welsh Ambulance Service and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

In addition, ambulance crews represented by Unison will also strike across five areas, including the London Ambulance Service.

Read more: Widower's anger at ambulance service who took 16 hours to send crew for dying wife

EMBARGOED TO 0001 MONDAY OCTOBER 24 File photo dated 06/01/22 of an ambulance outside a Accident and Emergency Department as more than 15,000 ambulance workers across 11 trusts in England and Wales start voting on Monday on whether to strike over pay. Members of the GMB union are being balloted in the coming weeks amid continuing industrial unrest in many sectors of the economy. Issue date: Monday October 24, 2022.
Only one NHS ambulance trust in England is not striking on 21 December. (PA)

Paramedics, Emergency Care Assistants, call handlers and other staff will also walk out on 28 December.

GMB representatives will now meet with individual trusts to discuss requirements for life-and-limb cover.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: "After 12 years of Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, NHS staff have had enough.

"The last thing they want to do is take strike action but the government has left them with no choice."

She called on health secretary Steve Barclay to listen and engage with unions about pay.

She said: "If he can't talk to us about this most basic workforce issue, what on Earth is he health secretary for?"

Unite said more than 1,600 of its members at the West Midlands, North West and North East ambulance service trusts will join the walkout.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: "Make no mistake, we are now in the fight of our lives for the very NHS itself. These strikes are a stark warning – our members are taking a stand to save our NHS from this government.

"Patients' lives are already at risk but this government is sitting on the sidelines, dodging its responsibility to sort out the crisis that it has created."

A general view of an ambulances outside the Accident and Emergency department at St Thomas's hospital, central London.
The government has said it has contingency plans for ambulance strikes. (PA)

Throughout the strike, Unite said it would maintain essential emergency cover for patients.

Unite continues to ballot 10,000 more NHS workers at 38 different employers across England and Wales, with the results expected later this month.

Unison said its strike, involving paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians and other 999 crew members, would run from midday to midnight.

The ambulance workers are to be joined by Unison nurses, porters, healthcare assistants, cleaners and other NHS workers at two Liverpool hospitals, who will also take action that day.

On Sunday, Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi said up to 600 armed forces personnel are on stand-by to cover for ambulance crews, firefighters and Border Force staff as the country braces for a wave of public service strikes in the run-up to Christmas.

NHS figures published at the beginning of this month revealed that almost one in three patients arriving at hospitals in England by ambulance in the seven days up to 27 November waited at least 30 minutes to be handed over to A&E teams. More than 11,000 patients – 15% of the total – waited for more than an hour.

Watch: Nadhim Zahawi confirms plans in place for strike action