NURSES and ambulance staff will strike together for the first time on February 6 in the biggest NHS walkout yet.

It will come five days after the country is brought to a halt by industrial action disrupting trains, schools and the civil service.

Thousands of nurses formed picket lines yesterday and will do so again today — but their next walkout will align with a fresh GMB ambulance strike.

The nurses’ action will also expand to cover 77 NHS trusts, compared with 55 this week.

Saffron Cordery, from NHS Providers, warned: “This strike could be the biggest one in the history of the NHS.”

The winter of unrest showed little sign of abating yesterday, with GMB leader Rachel Harrison announcing four new ambulance strikes for February 6 and 20 and March 6 and 20.


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She said: “The only way to solve this dispute is a proper pay offer but it seems the cold, dead hands of Downing Street are stopping this from happening.”

Pat Cullen, general secretary at the Royal College of Nursing, warned ministers: “If you want to continue to have strikes, that’s exactly what you will get.”

Elsewhere, more pressure was piled on No 10 to resolve the dispute with a House of Lords report calling for action to reform the NHS instead of just ploughing in more cash.

The Public Services Committee suggested more medical staff on 111 phone lines, faster discharge rules in hospitals and an overhaul of emergency services.

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Baroness Hilary Armstrong said: “It is time for solutions.”

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer also targeted PM Rishi Sunak as his party revealed that last month 37,000 patients waited longer than three hours and 40 minutes for category 2 ambulances, which cover heart attacks and strokes.

Mr Sunak called for constructive dialogue, saying: “We need to make sure those conversations are based on what’s reasonable, what’s responsible for the country but also what’s affordable.”

Meanwhile, rail minister Huw Merriman conceded the £1billion lost through train strikes would have been more than enough to settle workers’ demands.

And talks between teachers’ unions and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan ended in a stalemate yesterday.

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