CSP members in England will be asked to take strike action from January in the ongoing battle over NHS pay.
With the government continuing to refuse to talk to NHS unions about pay, the CSP now has no choice but to use the industrial action mandate secured by members in more than 100 trusts in England.
The exact schedule and form of the action will be confirmed in early January but is likely to feature a series of strikes on consecutive days in different parts of the country.
The news comes as polling conducted by Opinium showed the public backed strike action by physiotherapy staff. In a poll of 2000 adults across the UK, 55 per cent supported action - against just 25 per cent who opposed. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents also supported the government opening negotiations with a view to raise pay, while 69 per cent simply called for an immediate increase.
Next steps towards strike action
The CSP’s smaller, second wave ballot closes on 9 January and the first days of action are likely to be as soon as late January, taking account of the legal obligation to give employers a minimum of 14 days’ notice of any industrial action.
Members will not be asked to strike for more than one day during this first round of action.
Planning is also underway in Wales, where several health unions have widespread strike mandates; again, members can expect to hear more about specific plans after the Christmas period.
Claire Sullivan, director of employment relations and union services at the CSP, said:
'As a former physiotherapist myself, it is deeply sobering to be asking our members to take strike action. I know what an incredibly difficult decision it will be for people who want nothing more than to do the job they love for their patients and to be fairly paid for doing so.
‘But every day I see the damage being done by the workforce crisis, with long waiting times, overstretched services , and exhausted staff struggling to make ends meet.
‘Amidst repeated warnings from the CSP and other unions, this crisis has been more than a decade in the making. It simply cannot continue and the government must make an improved pay offer that helps us recruit and retain the workforce we need while also enabling staff to cope with the worst cost of living crisis in recent memory.
‘No-one wants to strike – it’s an action of last resort – and my message to the government is to avoid it by responding to our repeated calls for pay talks and coming to the table prepared to negotiate.’
Negotiations still on the table
CSP has written to health ministers in England and Wales urging them to open talks to avert strikes.
Letters to Steve Barclay, the health secretary in England, and his counterpart in Wales, Eluned Morgan, outlined how the strikes could be avoided through meaningful negotiation.
Both letters stressed the desire of the CSP and its members to avoid strikes but reiterated the need to find a pay deal that helped NHS staff manage the cost of living crisis and address the need to recruit and retain the workforce needed to meet patients’ needs.
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