A LONG-SERVING paramedic says morale in the NHS is at an ‘all time low’ as he prepares to strike alongside thousands of others this month.

Paramedics, ambulance workers, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other NHS staff are preparing to strike this month in an unresolved row over pay, unions have announced.

The GMB, Unison and Unite are co-ordinating industrial action across England and Wales after accusing the Government of ignoring pleas for a decent wage rise.

Thousands of ambulance workers and other NHS staff will strike on December 21, and paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff will also walk out on December 28.

The GMB said more than 10,000 ambulance workers across nine trusts in England and Wales will strike.

Among those is Dave Robb who has worked as a NWAS paramedic for the last 36 years, serving in Grange for ten of those.

The 64-year-old area convenor for Unison said the decision to strike was made with a ‘heavy heart’.

He said: “Part of our dispute is about pay but also about the recognition from the Government to put more money into the NHS, healthcare and health providers.

“The lack of funding over the past ten years has led to a significant impact on services and other areas of the NHS. Patients are suffering because of this.

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“We haven’t decided to strike on a whim. It’s been eight or nine years since we had the last dispute. It’s with a heavy heart that we take any form of industrial action. Our primary aim is to provide services and treatment to patients when required.

“It’s a difficult situation but at the end of the day we deserve better pay and working hours.”

Mr Robb, who works in Warrington, said three of his colleagues left last month after becoming ‘disillusioned’ with the job role.

He said: “We’re losing paramedics at an alarming rate. It’s a conveyor belt of recruitment. The lack of staff and resources put immense pressure on an already overworked workforce.

“Morale in the NHS, and particularly the ambulance service, is at an all time low. I’ve never seen it like this before. I joined in 1986 and still enjoy it now but the generation coming in now can move into other areas of the NHS for better money and less demand.

“There has to be more incentives to the job and make it more financially attractive.

“Everyone needs to get round a table and discuss a way forward. We’re not asking for the impossible – we’re asking for a pay rise in line with inflation and better investment in the NHS and health services.

“There will be more strikes if we can’t reach a resolution unfortunately.”

Unite said more than 1,600 of its members at the West Midlands, North West and North East ambulance service trusts will join the walkout.

It said the action is a “stark warning” to the Government that it must stem the “crisis” engulfing the NHS.

Throughout the strike, Unite said it will maintain essential emergency cover for patients.

Unison said its strike, involving paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians and other 999 crew members, will run from noon to midnight.