Ambulance workers in Burnham-On-Sea took part in strike action on Wednesday (December 21st) in a dispute over pay and working conditions.
Like many ambulance stations across the UK, a picket line formed outside Burnham-On-Sea Ambulance Station in Love Lane, as pictured here.
Ambulances still responded locally to life-threatening situations through the day but people were asked to only call 999 in life-threatening situations.
Paramedics, control room staff and support workers, who are members of the Unison tok part in the strike across much of England.
Workers went on strike to demand a pay rise in line with the current inflation, but they also said NHS staff retention and patients’ safety are among the reasons that led to the action. However, ministers say they will not negotiate on pay as they have met independent pay recommendations.
Several of the workers forming the Burnham-On-Sea picket line thanked local passers-by and residents for their support.
One worker said: “We have received so much warm support today – it’s been quite humbling. Some people have been honking their car horns and cheering as they drive by. Others have popped by give us encouragment and support through the day with donations of cakes and food. We have a full table of donations which is really greatly appreciated.”
Another said: “The Burnham people have been so supportive of why we are striking today, for which we are grateful. The support has been really heart warming through the day.”
One other Burnham ambulance staff member added: “Striking is an absolute last resort for us here in Burnham, but we have to make a joint stand across the country to ensure the Government understands that better pay and conditions are necessary. We really hope that further strikes are not needed.”
Every ambulance service in Somerset was affected by the strike: Taunton, Bridgwater, Minehead, Ilminster, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Burnham-On-Sea, Frome, Yeovil and Wincanton. However, Glastonbury, Frome, and Wincanton stations did not have picket lines.
Wednesday’s strike comes after South Western Ambulance Service declared a critical incident on Tuesday, after they had more than 700 calls waiting to be dispatched.
NHS bosses in Somerset have also warned that services are under “extreme pressure” not just due to strikes but due to a combination of cold weather, concerns about Strep A infections, and an increase in Flu.
Bernie Marden, chief medical officer, NHS Somerset said: “Regardless of any industrial action taking place, it is important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward.”