PARAMEDICS will strike today over a pay dispute going back more than a decade.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) staff across the region will stage a two hour walk out at the beginning of each day shift today.

Strike action was voted for at the beginning of May with more than 84 per cent of those balloted voting for a strike.

Mike Buoey, organiser of GMB, the trade union which represents NWAS staff, said: “GMB’s North West paramedics are taking this step reluctantly as a last resort — but they’ve been backed into a corner.

“They have waited patiently for many years while their job was re-evaluated for the years between 2005 to 2016.

“NWAS asked what they wanted. We told them; an independent investigation into what has happened during the past 13 years and an external evaluation of the job role. They flatly refused. Now thanks to the pig-headed attitude of NWAS top brass, our members will take strike action on Monday, June 18.”

The dispute has been running since a points-based job evaluation of paramedics in 2005, Mr Buoey said the NWAS paramedics were graded band five, but were one point off band six. Since then they have been fighting to be re-evaluated in the hopes of moving up a band.

Mr Buoey said: "Our members always felt they were undervalued."

He added he expected around 200 members to walk out across the region today.

Michael Forrest, Deputy Chief Executive for North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), said: “The trust is extremely disappointed with the actions proposed by GMB and believes it has worked closely with them to try and work through the issues which formed the basis of the ballot.

“We have been made aware that the strike action is proposed to take place today (Monday 18 June). It will only affect paramedics who are part of the GMB Union and have been since August 2016. Those striking will do so at the start of their shift, for two hours, if their shift starts between 0600 and 1200.

“We are unable to say how many staff will be taking action but we do know that there are 135 GMB paramedics rostered to start their shift during this time period on 18 June.”

“Discussions are still on-going to resolve the matter with our other trade union partners UNITE and UNISON and GMB have been invited to meetings where we are seeking to resolve the matter to both parties satisfaction.

“Plans are being put in place to manage our workforce level and if the proposed action does go ahead, our priority will be to minimise the impact on our patients across the North West.

“We will continue to make attempts to resolve these issues as quickly as possible and would like to assure the public that their safety is our primary concern.

“As always, we ask the public to help us by only calling 999 for an ambulance for life-threatening or potentially life-threatening emergencies. For non-emergency health concerns, alternative care and advice can be found though local pharmacies, GP surgeries, walk-in centres or NHS111.”

The last time NWAS staff went on strike was in 2014.