Thousands of physiotherapists to strike in ‘significant escalation’ of dispute

Physiotherapists are to stage their biggest strike to date after accusing the Government of refusing to negotiate with health unions over NHS pay.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) said 4,500 of its members at 56 trusts in England will strike on March 22, describing it as a “significant escalation” of the dispute.

It follows two strikes on January 26 and February 9 in which physiotherapy staff at 30 and 33 trusts respectively walked out.

The CSP said progress has continued in Scotland and Wales with respective governments engaging in negotiations and offering physiotherapy staff a better pay deal.

The Government has been criticised for only holding talks with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Claire Sullivan (pictured), director of employment relations at the CSP, said: “It is incredibly frustrating for us to be at exactly the same point we were at the beginning of the year despite our continued calls for talks with the Government.

“The blanket silence from ministers on this issue has left us with no choice but to ask members to walk out again.

“This strike will be our biggest yet, meaning it will affect more patients and more areas of the NHS and it is simply inexplicable that the Government is doing nothing to resolve this dispute.

“Its tactics over the last week, speaking to just one union when all staff apart from doctors and dentists are on the same pay scale, were provocative, divisive and simply outrageous.

“We have a mandate to strike in 119 trusts until June and will not hesitate to continue using it beyond March 22 if nothing changes.”

Secretary of the NHS group of unions and CSP assistant director of employment relations Elaine Sparkes said: “The Government is playing a dangerous game. Ministers’ clumsy attempts to stop the strikes so far have done more damage than good.

“There’s still time to call everyone in, share details of the new offer being discussed with the RCN and allow staff, employers and unions to concentrate on getting the NHS back on track.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The Government will talk to all unions who are willing to discuss what is fair and reasonable – recognising the vital role NHS workers play but also the wider economic pressures facing the UK.”

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