MORE than two thirds of ambulance staff went out on strike today (Monday) as part of a national row over pay.
West Midlands Ambulance workers walked out from 7am and 11am after the Government refused to give NHS staff a one per cent pay increase.
It follows a previous strike in October where tens of thousands of union members formed picket lines.
Of the workers on duty, 41 per cent took full strike action while another 26 per cent worked to a number of exemptions meaning they only responded to calls where life was at risk.
Bosses had previously warned disruption levels would be high and ambulances could take up to four hours to reach people, while some might not turn up at all.
Chief executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “Taking strike action is a very difficult decision for our staff. However, through a combination of pre-planning and agreements with union representatives, we have been able to maintain an emergency service for the most seriously ill and injured patients.
“Our staff work extremely hard in often very difficult circumstances and we have sympathy for their position.
“Although the strike action is over, action short of a strike will continue throughout the week. This means it continues to be vital that the public recognise the increased pressure that the service is under.”
Rachael Maskell, Unite head of health, said: “Our members are working harder and getting poorer. It doesn’t have to be this way.
“We are urging the health secretary to value the vital work of NHS workers who would rather be caring for patients than fighting their own poverty.”