UK stages largest strike in health service history
STORY: Health workers in Britain began their largest ever strike on Monday.
Tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance workers walked out in an escalating pay dispute, putting further strain on the state-run National Health Service (NHS).
Nurses and ambulance workers have been striking separately on and off since late last year.
But Monday's walkout involving both, largely in England, is the biggest in the 75-year history of the NHS.
STRIKING NURSE, REBECCA COSGRAVE:
“This isn’t what nurses do. Nurses are notoriously bad at standing up for themselves and I think it’s just driven us to crunch point really; The straw that broke the camel's back at this point.”
STRIKING NURSE, ETHNA VAUGHAN:
“Just listen. They’re still not listening. They’re still saying, 'You know, the NHS doesn’t have the money to pay.' Of course that NHS doesn’t have the money. That’s why we’re here. We’re here for everyone. The government needs to listen and discuss pay rather than just saying the NHS doesn’t have money.”
Nurses will also strike on Tuesday, while ambulance staff will walk out again on Friday and physiotherapists on Thursday.
It makes the week probably the most disruptive in NHS history, its Medical Director Stephen Powis said.
Health workers are demanding a pay rise that reflects the worst inflation in Britain in four decades.
The government says that would be unaffordable and cause more price rises.
And in turn, make interest rates and mortgage payments rise.
Around 500,000 workers, many from the public sector, have been staging strikes since last summer, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to resolve the disputes.
The Royal College of Nursing Trade union wrote to Sunak over the weekend asking him to bring the nursing strike "to a swift close" by making "meaningful" pay offers.
The government has urged people to continue to access emergency services and attend appointments during the strikes unless they had been canceled, but said patients would face disruption and delays.