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Health pay strike talks adjourned

Talks aimed at averting next week's strike by NHS workers have been adjourned and will resume on Monday.

Union officials held a third meeting of the week with officials at the Department of Health in London in a bid to break the deadlocked row over pay.

Rehana Azam, national officer of the GMB union, said: "We are pleased we are still in the talks. We are making every effort to get a tangible offer on the table to take back to our members to avert the strike next week."

The GMB has given formal notice of the planned walkout, serving NHS employers in England and Northern Ireland with the necessary information about the stoppage on Thursday, January 29, involving hospital and ambulance workers.

Ambulance members of the union will strike for 24 hours from 0001, while other health workers will take action for 12 hours from midday.

Members of Unison and Unite are also set to go on strike on the same day in a long-running dispute over the Government's refusal to accept a pay review body's recommendation of a 1% rise for all NHS workers.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee to discuss contingency plans for the strike and is likely to take part in Monday's meeting.

A Department of Health spokesman has said: 'We want to see the unions call off the industrial action planned at a time when services are under significant pressure, given that only 13% of their members voted to strike.

"We are doing everything possible to ensure vulnerable patients are not put at risk, and the Health Secretary chaired a Cobra meeting on contingency plans, with a particular emphasis on patient safety."

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