Over 42,000 physiotherapists and support workers in 30 NHS Trusts across England went on strike on 26 January. This is the first time members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) have ever taken strike action.
Another 40,000 physiotherapists struck on 9 February, across 33 different Trusts in England. The action is part of a rolling programme of strikes on pay planned by the CSP.
Last summer the government offered an average increase of 4.75 per cent. All health unions are asking for an above inflation pay rise.
In December CSP members working in the NHS in Scotland voted by 72 per cent to accept an offer from the Scottish administration. This offer increased the pay bill by 7.5 per cent with the lowest paid receiving an increase that matches inflation.
Strike action in Wales, planned for 7 February, was called off when the Welsh administration entered meaningful discussions.
“It’s inexplicable NHS England won’t even discuss the current dispute.”
So far there is no movement on pay for NHS staff working in England. Claire Sullivan, CSP director of employment relations, said: “It’s inexplicable they won’t even discuss the current dispute, despite seeing in Scotland and Wales what can be achieved through negotiation.”
She continued “The government must now come to the table to avert further strikes, which we will not hesitate to call in order to defend the ability of our members to pay their bills and for the NHS to recruit and retain the staff it desperately needs.”
As the CSP points out, physiotherapists are an essential part of patient care. Especially when involved at an early stage, they benefit patients and support primary care professionals in the diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal conditions, as well as post operative recovery.
The government makes announcements about getting people back to work “to help the economy”. Yet it does not care for the professionals who are the ones to make that happen.