Ahead of an ambulance workers' strike taking place tomorrow (Monday, February 6) Grant Shapps has expressed concern that it could put lives at risk.

This is expected to be one of the biggest strike days ever for the NHS, and the Business Secretary has criticised the ambulance unions for not providing information that would allow them to not put emergency cover in place.

Mr Shapps appeared on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme and was asked if the industrial action would put lives at risk.

He said: “I am concerned that it does, if you have a situation which has been happening so far where you don’t have co-operation between the back-up services – typically the Army – and the people who are striking.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Grant Shapps was critical of the ambulance unionsGrant Shapps was critical of the ambulance unions (Image: PA)

“We have seen the situation where the Royal College of Nursing very responsibly before the strikes told the NHS ‘This is where we are going to be striking’ and they are able to put the emergency cover in place.

“Unfortunately we have been seeing a situation with the ambulance unions where they refuse to provide that information. That leaves the Army, who are driving the back-ups here, in a very difficult position – a postcode lottery when it comes to having a heart attack or a stroke when there is a strike on.

“We cannot have that situation. That is why I am introducing laws for minimum safety levels.”

What have the unions said in response to this?

Unison union head of health Sara Gorton, said during strikes last month that all the services involved had emergency cover which, “as a rule of thumb”, saw all life-threatening incidents – also known as category 1 calls – responded to.

Category 2 calls, which can include heart attacks and strokes, would be assessed and if there was “risk to life and limb” ambulance staff would leave picket lines to respond.

Meanwhile, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said neither Prime Minister Rishi Sunak nor Health Secretary Steve Barclay are prepared to discuss pay.

She told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme that Mr Barclay “is not telling the truth” when he says there is dialogue going on.

Ms Graham added: “I can tell you categorically that there has been no conversations on pay whatsoever with Rishi Sunak or Steve Barclay about this dispute, in any way, shape or form.

“They’ve danced around their handbag, they danced around the edges but they will not talk about pay.

“To me, that is an abdication of responsibility (as) the dispute is about pay – so how can they say they are in talks?”