Physios walk out as union accuses Government of ‘intransigence’ over pay talks

Physiotherapists across the country have walked out after their union accused the Government of being “intransigent” over pay negotiations.

Action took place across 33 hospital trusts on Thursday as a wave of strikes continues to sweep the country, with ambulance workers also due to walk out on Friday.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) claimed ministers have refused to discuss its dispute over pay, apart from during one 45-minute meeting last month.

CSP director of employment relations Claire Sullivan (pictured) said the Government “had not lifted a finger” to avert strikes in England, with negotiations having taken place in Scotland and Wales.

Nkechi Nwafor, a physiotherapist at Royal Stoke Hospital, told the PA news agency that she was striking because she and her colleagues are “overworked and overstretched”.

“What we are asking for is a review of our pay situation to see what can be done, because we need to attract people into the profession,” she said.

“Physiotherapists are not just for muscles. As physiotherapists we are in every hospital ward.

“I work in accident and emergency on the front line, making sure we can get patients the right mobility aids and making sure that people are getting home safe, to prevent delays.

“We also work in critical care with people who have respiratory illnesses, to give them the best quality of life, and with patients who have neuromuscular conditions too.”

Shona Thompson, who was also on the picket line at Royal Stoke Hospital, said: “The Government needs to realise that they have to come back to the table.

“This dispute has been going on since April last year, they need to come back and speak to the unions about a better pay deal otherwise strike action will continue.

“The NHS is at breaking point. That is why we are out here today and have made the difficult decision to strike, because something has to change and the current pay levels are affecting the retention of our staff.

“We love what we do and we want to give our absolute best to every single patient. Having to pick and choose which patients we can see because of our staffing levels is heartbreaking.”

Physiotherapists are continuing to provide emergency care while strikes continue, including intensive care and on-call respiratory services.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “It is regrettable some union members are taking further industrial action at a time when the NHS is already under pressure.

“The Health and Social Care Secretary has had constructive meetings with unions, including the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, and has been clear he wants to continue to discuss what is fair and affordable as part of the 2023/24 pay process.”

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