Health workers across the Fylde coast have staged a four-hour walkout in a dispute with the Government over pay.
Nurses, midwives, ambulance staff and other NHS workers formed picket lines outside hospitals and health centres across the region from 7am to 11am yesterday.
Staff have been angered by the Government’s refusal to back a widespread salary increase – despite an independent pay review board recommending the pay rise.
Speaking outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Steve Holmes, branch secretary of Unison Blackpool, said: “The pay review board has recommended a one per cent increase and the Government has failed to implement it – this is an outrage.
“NHS pay has fallen by an average of 10 per cent in the last few years – the disappointment is with the Government.
“Morale is low in terms of the way they (staff) are being treated by the Government.
“We have staff working over and above the contracted hours just to get the work done.”
Chris Marquis, from the Society of Radiographers, added: “We have not had a pay rise for four or five years.
“With it being a one per cent pay rise it is not a lot to ask for. It is OK for the Government to say ‘we have no money’ but when the Government give themselves an 11 per cent pay rise it disgusts us.
“No-one wants to do this. Morale is horrendous at the moment – you are constantly being pushed to do more and more work.”
Ministers in England awarded NHS staff a one per cent increase, but only for those without automatic progression pay rises.
Automatic pay rises are given to about half of all NHS staff to reward professional development and are worth three per cent a year on average.
The independent pay review board had said the one per cent increase should be across the board.
Moira Broadhead, from the Royal College of Midwives called the pay structure “divisive.”
She added: “Only people at the top of their pay grade have got the one per cent increase.
“It is a divisive pay structure – some people get it and others do not.”
The strike will be followed by further action this week.
Measures will include members claiming pay for extra hours, refusing to work overtime and taking all entitled breaks.
The decision follows a four-hour strike on October 13, the first in the NHS over pay for 30 years.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “NHS staff are our greatest asset and we want to make the current pay system fairer – which is why we have put forward proposals that would guarantee all staff would get at least a one per cent pay rise this year and next, but these have been rejected by the unions.
“We have taken tough decisions to increase the NHS budget, but we can’t afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking 10,000 frontline jobs.”