Midwives will walk out over a pay protest for the first time in Gloucestershire after voting to join thousands of other health workers in strike action.
More than 80 per cent of midwives voted in favour of strike action, with 94.6 per cent also agreeing to take part in protest action.
The yes vote follows the rejection by employers of the Independent NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) recommendation of a one per cent pay rise for NHS staff.
It is the first time in its 133 year history that Royal College of Midwives members will have taken strike action.
Strike action by vital health care staff including nurses and paramedics will take place in Gloucestershire in Monday, October 13.
A four hour stoppage is planned to take place between 7am and 11am due to a continuing protest over pay at Gloucester, Stroud and Cheltenham maternity units. It will be followed by four days of action between October 14-17 when members will stop working through their breaks.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a resounding yes from our members. It could not send a clearer signal about the level of discontent on this issue to those denying them a very modest pay increase.
“Our members have suffered three years of pay restraint and face the prospect that their pay in 2016 will only be one per cent higher than it was in 2010.
“The recommendations from all public sector pay review bodies have been followed except those for health workers. This is not acceptable.”
Unions have not given up on attracting health chiefs back around the negotiating table before the walk-out.
Ignoring recommendations from the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations means only some midwives will get the increase. Because the award is non-consolidated, it will not count towards pension entitlements or shift pay and will be wiped away at the end of March 2016. Then, wages will go back to their April 2013 level.
Sue Powell, NHS campaigner with Cheltenham and Gloucester Against the Cuts, said: “There has never been any deaths as a result of nurses striking, but there have been deaths because of cuts to the NHS.
“Morale is pretty low amongst staff and that has been the case for some time.
“Like all health staff, midwives would not choose to walk out lightly. Unions will be making sure contingency plans are in place.
“The increase staff have been offered is below inflation, so effectively there has been a cut to the budget.
“The NHS is being used by all political parties to win votes, but few of the policies presented at conference seem to stack up financially.”
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust insists disruption caused by a strike will be kept to a minimum.
Director of human resources and organisational development at the trust, Dave Smith said: “We will work with our partners in the health community to ensure that patient services at Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals continue to be delivered safely and consistently throughout any day of industrial action.
“It is our priority to ensure that both emergencies and inpatients will continue to receive their normal high quality, safe care and treatment.”