Members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) at 30 NHS services — one in seven — downed tools for 24 hours.
The walkout, which involved both physios and support staff, follows the Tory government’s 4.75 per cent NHS pay offer for 2022-23 – less than half the current 40-year high double-digit inflation.
CSP director of employment relations Claire Sullivan said: “The government must come to the table with something tangible that we can put to our members to prevent more strikes.
“We’re determined to secure a pay deal that helps our members cope with the cost-of-living crisis and helps the NHS recruit and retain staff to deliver the services that patients desperately need.”
The industrial action, which will be followed by a physio and support staff walkout across every Welsh health board on February 7 and a strike by physios at 33 NHS services in England two days later, saw workers continue to provide care in emergency cases.
This includes critical care patients, those with severe respiratory problems and some stroke sufferers who require urgent physiotherapy.
But rehab work, discharge planning and community physiotherapy was reportedly disrupted.
The union has a mandate for strikes in over 120 services, more than half the total, including hospital, community and mental health teams.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said that it was “regrettable” the workforce is following other health service staff in taking industrial action.
Nurses and ambulance workers launched walkouts in December, warning of a staff exodus, creeping privatisation of services and worsening patient safety.
February 6 could see the biggest-ever NHS strike, with members of the Royal College of Nursing and paramedic staff represented by Unite, Unison and GMB, all due to down tools simultaneously.
Mr Barclay, who reportedly asked health unions to help him put pressure on the Treasury to free up the extra cash needed to settle the worsening dispute during crisis talks earlier this month, claimed he hopes for a “fair and affordable” wage award for 2023-24.
But unions warn that only an improvement on the current financial year’s offer will stop more walkouts.