Striking York paramedics say they are not just fighting for better pay – but for the NHS itself.
Around 1,500 workers for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service walked out for a second time today (Wednesday).
Paramedics, call handlers, drivers and technicians from the Unison and GMB unions are taking part in staggered strikes across a 24-hour period.
They are still providing emergency cover for residents – and urged anyone to call 999 in an emergency as usual.
A picket line has been set up on Huntington Road, close to the junction with Turner Close, which houses the York Ambulance Station.
A large group of strikers were gathered there, with placards reading ‘Strike To Save Our NHS’ and ‘Fighting For York NHS’.
York paramedics Edwin Wood and Rob Powell have both worked for the ambulance service for 25 years. They say they’ve never known the NHS worse than it is today.
“It’s about pay, but it’s also about the NHS as a whole. We don’t want to lose the NHS,” Edwin told YorkMix.
“The last 12 years of underfunding mismanagement, it’s come to this, the government are not willing to discuss it.”
He said “the whole of the NHS feels undervalued”.
Rob said: “I’ve never known people leaving in such numbers. I’ve been here 25 years. So it used to be a job that you come in for life. People are coming for couple of years and leaving.”
Edwin added: “We will love doing our job. But in the last few years, when you’re sitting in the corridor with vulnerable and ill people, it is extremely stressful – obviously for the patients, but it’s very difficult for us to do that day in and day out.
“We are not providing the cover and the care that we can because it’s just too underfunded and the hospitals are up to capacity.
“Patients are not getting the service that they deserve .
“We need something to change or we will lose the NHS and we are passionate that we do not want to lose the NHS.”