Health workers' unions and employers will meet for crisis talks today after paramedics and ambulance crews voted in favour of striking over a pay agreement.
The results of Unison's regional ballot showed 75 per cent would support strike action after unions claimed the Department of Health had interfered with a pay deal already agreed with ambulance services in Shropshire and the West Midlands.
Members of Transport and General Workers' Union, GMB and the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel will join Unison representatives to discuss their respective ballot results before sitting down with their
employers. However if a deal is not reached during talks at Falcon House, in Dudley, industrial action could begin as early as Christmas Eve.
Of the 522 ballot papers sent to Unison members in the region, 376 were returned.
An announcement is expected to be made this afternoon. Even if an all-out strike is averted the threat of an overtime ban and work-to-rule could seriously affect crews' response times at their busiest time of the year.
Mr Salmon said: "We have had an overwhelming response to our ballot in favour of taking industrial action, with 93 per cent willing to take action short of strike and 75 per cent in favour of striking."