'Lives are at RISK!' - Union boss says people are dying as NHS crisis deepens

'Lives are at RISK!' - Union boss says people are dying as NHS crisis deepens
Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 06/12/2022

- 19:28

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:28

Speaking exclusively to GB News, the union also warned lives are being put at risk

Unite has admitted that it is coordinating strike action with other unions, fuelling fears that a general strike is in the offing.

Speaking exclusively to GB News, the union also warned lives are being put at risk across the health services, and that NHS workers were sleeping in their cars due to the cost of living crisis.

Onay Kasab, Unite’s national lead officer, told GB News: “As a trade union, we will coordinate in sectors where there is a common employers. So yes, we have been discussing with other trade unions about how we coordinate our action, but let me just emphasise - we want negotiations.

“No negotiations are taking place at present, if the Government sits down and enters into realistic fair negotiations with us, then action can be called off if a reasonable offer is made.

“But the reality is that in the NHS, there are no negotiations and that's part of the reason why we're in the situation that we are now in.”

He told Mark Longhurst: “The harsh reality is that lives have been put at risk now. Our paramedic members are telling us that people are dying now because of the state of the NHS, that is the reality. Only 25% of shifts have the planned staff actually on that shift.

“There are 133,000 vacancies across the NHS in England alone, and what our members are telling us is that lives have been put at risk and that people are dying because of the state of the service.

“We are happy to negotiate but the Government will not negotiate with us. Instead it talks about a Pay Review Body - that's not negotiation, that's putting submissions in and then the Government deciding whether or not it likes those submissions. So there are no negotiations.

“The reason why our members have no choice is because we have made these points over and over again, and we have paramedic members relying on food banks. We have paramedic members sleeping in their cars because they can't afford the petrol to get to work. That is how bad things have got, that is why our members don't have a choice.”

Asked why Unite signed up to the Pay Review Body, Mr Kasab told GB News: “The Pay Review Body in reality is not fit for purpose. We have engaged with it for years, but it is not fit for purpose, as has been seen this year. What we need are negotiations.

“The figure that the independent Pay Review body has come up with, and it's now been imposed in England and Wales, comes nowhere near dealing with the cost of living. That is the reality and negotiations we believe will take us further.

“Just look at what's happened in Scotland, which has a slightly different system where negotiations do take place. Scotland is opening negotiations, there was an improved offer that is now being put to workers.

“There's been some discussion with Steve Barclay, but it was not negotiation about pay. The Government didn't want to talk about the fundamental issue of pay.”

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