Ambulance strike dates 2023: when are strikes in February and March, who will walkout from GMB & Unite unions?

Ambulance workers at Unite the Union are set to GMB in strikes throughout February and March.

Thousands of ambulance workers are to stage fresh strikes in the coming weeks as the bitter dispute over pay and staffing continues.

The GMB Union has said more than 10,000 of its members, including paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff, will walk out on 6 and 20 February, and 6 and 20 March. In addition, workers at West Midlands ambulance service will strike on January 23 and GMB members at North West Ambulance Service will strike on January 24.

While members at Unite the Union are set to strike on 10 dates between 6 February and 20 March. This means 6 February will be the biggest walkout in NHS history, with nurses also walking out. And Unison, the third union which represents ambulance workers, has already organised a strike with five ambulance trusts on 23 January, after 25,000 GMB and Unison members walked on 11 January.

The industrial action by the Unite and GMB unions will include paramedics, call handlers, drivers and technicians - a step up from the December walkouts. NHS chiefs have assured patients that walkouts will not stop ambulance staff from responding to life or death emergencies.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: “GMB’s ambulance workers are angry. In their own words ‘they are done’. Our message to the Government is clear – talk pay now. Ministers have made things worse by demonising the ambulance workers who provided life and limb cover on strike days – playing political games with their scaremongering.

The only way to solve this dispute is a proper pay offer. But it seems the cold, dead hands of Number 10 and 11 Downing Street are stopping this from happening. In the face of government inaction, we are left with no choice but industrial action. GMB ambulance workers are determined, they’re not going to back down. It’s up for this Government to get serious on pay. We are waiting.”

The picket line outside Wigan Community Fire and Ambulance Station in Robin Park Road, Wigan

While Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Rather than act to protect the NHS and negotiate an end to the dispute, the government has disgracefully chosen to demonise ambulance workers. Ministers are deliberately misleading the public about the life and limb cover and who is to blame for excessive deaths. Our members faithfully provide life and limb cover on strike days and it’s not the unions who are not providing minimum service levels.

“It’s this government’s disastrous handling of the NHS that has brought it to breaking point, and as crisis piles on crisis, the prime minister is seen to be washing his hands of the dispute. What a disgrace. What an abdication of leadership.”

Health Secretary Steve Barclay previously warned there would “inevitably” be disruption - with ambulance delays and longer wait times for 999 and 111 calls both expected. There are also warnings that some people may be asked to make their own way to hospital.

It comes after Rishi Sunak and ministers held crunch talks with rail, health and education unions last week in an attempt to prevent more industrial action, with the health service in the midst of a crisis not seen for years.

Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, speaks to the media after a meeting with Health Secretary Steve Barclay at the Department of Health in London, following industrial action over pay. Credit: PA

But Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, said that while “progress” had been made in talks with the government, no “tangible” concessions had been made.

She commented: “It was a very civil meeting. We did actually manage to talk about pay – we didn’t get the tangible concessions that we might have hoped for that would enable us to call off the strikes later this week. But it was definitely progress when you’re in a room with the Secretary of State talking about pay, I think. He’s asked for our help to help with the Treasury to make the case for investment. We’ll certainly do that.”

Asked whether she felt the minister was on the side of the unions, she said: “You might interpret that. I mean, it was very clear that what is needed in order to resolve the dispute is investment. The Treasury is in the position to unblock that, so I guess the message today is to put pressure back on the Chancellor and the Prime Minister to say the dispute is resolvable.”

Ambulance strike dates

Monday 23 January

Unison workers striking:

  • London Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • South West Ambulance Service

GMB workers striking:

  • West Midlands Ambulance Service

Tuesday 24 January

GMB workers striking:

  • North West Ambulance Service

Thursday 26 January

Unite workers striking:

  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Trust

Monday 6 February

GMB workers striking:

  • East Midlands Ambulance Service
  • Mersey Care NHS
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • South Central Ambulance
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • South West Ambulance Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Unite workers striking:

  • West Midlands Ambulance Trust
  • North East Ambulance Trust
  • North West Ambulance Trust
  • East Midlands Ambulance Trust
  • Wales Ambulance Trust

Thursday 16 February

Unite workers striking:

  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Trust

Friday 17 February

Unite workers striking:

  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Trust
  • West Midlands Ambulance Trust

Monday 20 February

GMB workers striking:

  • East Midlands Ambulance Service
  • Mersey Care NHS
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • South Central Ambulance
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • South West Ambulance Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Unite workers striking:

  • North East Ambulance Trust
  • East Midlands Ambulance Trust
  • Wales Ambulance Trust

Wednesday 22 February

Unite workers striking:

  • North West Ambulance Trust

Thursday 23 February

Unite workers striking:

  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Trust

Friday 24 February

Unite workers striking:

  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Trust

Monday 6 March

GMB workers striking:

  • East Midlands Ambulance Service
  • Mersey Care NHS
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • South Central Ambulance
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • South West Ambulance Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Unite workers striking:

  • West Midlands Ambulance Trust
  • North East Ambulance Trust
  • North West Ambulance Trust
  • East Midlands Ambulance Trust
  • Wales Ambulance Trust

Monday 20 March

GMB workers striking:

  • East Midlands Ambulance Service
  • Mersey Care NHS
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • South Central Ambulance
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • South West Ambulance Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Unite workers striking:

  • West Midlands Ambulance Trust
  • North East Ambulance Trust
  • North West Ambulance Trust
  • East Midlands Ambulance Trust
  • Wales Ambulance Trust
Some patients may have to make their own way to hospital, NHS England has said. Credit: Getty Images

However, many of the services’ employees are likely to be exempt from the action under emergency cover plans to be drawn up locally by each ambulance employer, Unison said.

What should I do if I need an ambulance?

NHS England has advised patients to continue to call 999 for life-threatening emergencies but has urged patients to use 111, GPs and pharmacies for non-urgent needs.

Some patients may be asked to find their own transport to hospital, but NHS England said people should still seek advice from 111 or 999 before doing so.

Why are ambulance workers striking?

Ms Gorton previously said: “The government will only have itself to blame if there are strikes in the NHS. Ambulance staff and their health colleagues don’t want to inconvenience anyone but ministers are refusing to do the one thing that could prevent disruption – that’s start genuine talks about pay.

“Wages are too low to stop health workers quitting the NHS. As more and more hand in their notice, there are fewer staff left to care for patients. The public knows that’s the reason behind lengthy waits at A&E, growing ambulances delays, postponed operations and cancelled clinics.”