Shropshire Star

Star comment: We can and must do better over our NHS

It is no exaggeration to presume that lives were lost because of strike action by ambulance staff.

A picket line at an ambulance hub

However justified the cause, the sight of paramedics and call-handlers standing on picket lines was dismaying.

The NHS was an institution that we could all consider to be our insurance policy in the case of illness or accident. Now the public must dread getting ill because of delays getting into hospital - and when strikes are on there is no guarantee an ambulance will even turn up.

The NHS strikes are as much about working conditions as money, and there will be much sympathy from the public in that. Paramedics are sick of spending their shift waiting in queues outside A&E. Health unions have made their point and now is the time as a society, we cannot afford to see the NHS deteriorate further.

The Government is hiding behind its own pay review body and the recommendation from it. That proposal, however, came at a time when inflation was low and when the economic outlook was far less bleak.

It is unfair to put essential workers into poverty at a time when they have insufficient resources to do their jobs properly. Both sides must come together to find common ground.

The Government’s refusal to negotiate reflects poorly and the public expects better. As unions and ministers engage in a blame game, it’s the general public that is suffering.

Clearly, something must be done. There was a time when the NHS and ambulance services faced a winter rush. Now that rush is 365 days a year, with crippling waiting lists and lower standards than the public expects. We can and must do better. We must avoid risking innocent lives.