An ambulance strike planned for Wednesday, March 8th was “paused” as unions began talks with the Government.

The strike, which was set to involve thousands of ambulance staff across Somerset and the South West, has been suspended to allow UNISON to hold pay talks with the government.

Christina McAnea, Unison general secretary, said: “NHS pay talks with the government start today.”

“Our strike action is paused while the talks are taking place. We’ve had assurances that the government will put in extra money for this year’s and next year’s pay.”

“They’ve been forced to move to this position – and to open talks – because of brave NHS staff who kept up the pressure in this dispute.”

The decision was taken after the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed there would be additional investment in pay for both this year and next.

Last week, Unison head of health Sara Gorton, said: “Unions said all along they could pause strikes if ministers would only commit to formal talks to boost pay for this year.”

“The government has finally promised extra investment in pay for both years. The sad thing is this could all have been handled so differently. Proper pay talks should have started months ago, long before the first strike was called. That would have avoided days of disruption for the NHS and its patients.”

“Whether the talks signal the beginning of the end of the current dispute will emerge in the coming days. If a deal can be reached, strikes can end and everyone can work together again to ensure the NHS gets back on track.”

“However, when unions get in the room, they’ll quickly learn whether the talks can be meaningful. If not, unions will be forced to resume strike action. Nobody wants that.”

Both GMB and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have also suspended their action and will join the NHS staff council talks.”

Ambulance workers in Burnham-On-Sea started industrial action, alongside other stations in Somerset, last year.

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