Workers from south coast ambulance services to be balloted for strike action

Workers at three ambulance services across the south coast are to be balloted for strike action.

Members of the GMB Union who work for South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB), South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST) say they are angry over a 4% pay rise which they say represents a real-terms pay cut.

In an initial consultative ballot, more than 90% of GMB  members decided in favour of a walk out.

Ballot dates for will be announced in the coming days.

The three services covers all of the south east and west including East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, the former Avon area, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Members say they are at 'breaking point' over another year of not being able to pay their bills.

Lib Whitfield, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “The service being provided by ambulance trusts across the country has been chronically underfunded and staff have for too long been at breaking point with no sign of anything changing.

“Recent CQC reports have been less than complimentary to the management of these services and it is only thanks to the goodwill of the overworked and undervalued crews that the service continues to be as responsive as it is.

“GMB members are at breaking point and another year of not being able to pay their bills is a step too far for many.”

A spokesman for the Department for Health said: "We are giving over 1 million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, as recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body.

"Industrial action is a matter for unions, and we urge them to carefully consider the potential impacts on patients."