Ambulance strikes 2023: When are they and how much do staff earn?

GMB, Unison and Unite members in the ambulance service have voted to strike over pay  (Joshua Bratt/PA)
GMB, Unison and Unite members in the ambulance service have voted to strike over pay (Joshua Bratt/PA)

Tens of thousands of ambulance workers who are members of the Unison, Unite and GMB unions are striking on January 11.

The strikes follow a failure to make a deal with Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Monday, January 9, despite “progress” being made.

Around 2,600 ambulance workers will strike this week, with Onay Kasab, Unite’s lead national officer, saying the Government had “missed yet another opportunity to put this right”.

When are the ambulance strikes?

Workers in the North West, North-East, West Midlands, East Midlands and Wales will take strike action. This includes paramedics, ambulance technicians, emergency care assistants and other 999 crew members.

The 24-hour strikes will take place on Wednesday, January 11, and Monday, January 23.

Alongside ambulance staff walkouts, several other NHS workers are set to strike.

Why are ambulance staff striking?

The dispute is between the unions and Government over issues regarding pay levels, staffing and concerns about staff leaving the health service. The unions do not believe the current pay offer is acceptable.

Unite, whose officials were in the meeting with Mr Barclay, described the updated pay offer as an insult to its members.

Ambulance Strike | January 2023

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How much do ambulance staff earn?

Unions are calling for pay rises higher than four per cent offered to most under the NHS Agenda for Change pay structure, which they say amounts to a real terms pay cut.

Ambulance workers are calling for a higher pay increase than the £1,400 being offered.

For newly qualified paramedics and those with experience, different bands of pay are on the NHS pay scale, with salaries dependent on where in the country they are.

Band 5 on the NHS pay scale includes newly qualified paramedics with a starting salary of £27,055, rising to £32,934 in most of the UK.

In London, newly qualified paramedics receive a salary of between £31,163 and £37,875.

Experienced paramedics working for at least two years are in Band 6 of the pay scale. They earn £33,706 a year, rising to £35,572 after two years and up to £40,588 after five.

In London, experienced paramedics earn between £38,762 and £45,765.

What emergency help is available during the strikes?

The unions have agreed to respond to all category one calls, which involve the most life-threatening conditions such as cardiac arrests. Some trusts have also said they will make exemptions for certain category two incidents such as stroke and chest pain.

However, Mr Barclay says that organising sufficient cover to respond to the most serious emergencies has been made “almost impossible” by local union arrangements being changed at the last minute.

Expectant women who are very close to their due date are encouraged to plan their travel in case they go into labour during the strikes.

The general public has been advised to take sensible steps to keep themselves and others safe during this period, including not drinking excessively and checking up on vulnerable people in their communities.

Dr Adrian Boyle, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, has encouraged people to drive suspected stroke victims to hospital.

The public has been instructed to only call 999 for life-threatening problems, and to use 111 online as a first port of call for everything else.

While the armed forces have been drafted in to help, their role will be limited. They won’t be sent out on critical care call-outs or be allowed to provide any clinical care.

They also won’t be allowed to go through red lights and turn on the blue ambulance lights when driving.