The well being secretary has appeared to rule out a ten% pay rise for nurses, insisting the transfer is “not affordable”.
Speaking to broadcasters on a go to to Northwick Park Hospital, Steve Barclay reiterated that the impartial pay overview physique is the “right way” to take care of disputes between well being unions and the federal government.
Pressed on whether or not a ten% pay improve for nurses was cheap, he mentioned: “Well 10% is not affordable, it would be an extra £3.6bn a year and obviously that would take money away from patient services, essential services that we need to invest in, given the backlogs from the pandemic.”
The well being secretary continued: “I have discussions with the Treasury, as do other secretaries of state, and these things need to be balanced not just with the needs of teachers, with the education secretary, or train drivers, with the transport secretary, but also what’s affordable for your viewers in terms of their own cost of living pressures.”
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As nurses joined picket traces as soon as extra, Mr Barclay mentioned he was “disappointed in the strikes“, including: “The losers in that are the patients.”
But the well being secretary insisted he was working “constructively” with unions over long-running pay disputes regardless of additional strikes being deliberate for subsequent month.
Rishi Sunak reiterated this message afterward Wednesday, telling reporters that “dialogue is happening” with commerce union leaders to try to “find a way through”.
“As we tackle inflation, we need to be responsible with public sector pay settlements, we have to think about what’s reasonable but also what is affordable for the country,” the prime minister mentioned.
“The government and all ministers are sitting down, not just with the nurses’ union, but with all unions to have constructive dialogue and find a way through and we’re committed to making sure that we can also reduce the burden of the cost of living on people.”
Sunak says there isn’t any cash left as pay disputes proceed
We’ve had months of presidency ministers saying they’re open to talks with the unions to attempt to carry an finish to public sector strikes.
But one second in the present day received to the guts of why no decision has but been reached.
As GMB nationwide secretary Rachel Harrison introduced six additional strikes dates for ambulance staff, her message was clear: “talk pay now”.
This is the crux of the deadlock that’s crippling the already beleaguered well being service – the federal government gained’t negotiate on pay.
It is a long-standing place reiterated in the present day by each the prime minister and the well being secretary.
Despite nurses virtually halving their pay demand from 19 to 10%, Rishi Sunak’s response was that the general public funds are his precedence – and any affords should be “affordable”.
In different phrases, there’s no cash left, and the disputes go on.
Earlier this month, Sky News reported that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) might settle for a pay rise of round 10% to finish its ongoing dispute with the federal government.
The union had initially demanded a rise of as much as 19% to cowl hovering inflation and falls in actual time period wages over the previous decade.
But union boss Pat Cullen has mentioned she could be keen to “meet the government halfway”.
Mr Barclay’s newest feedback recommend the federal government shouldn’t be ready to simply accept the ten% determine.
Strikes set off hundreds of cancellations
Members of the RCN voted to take industrial motion again in November – the primary nationwide strike by the union in its 106-year historical past.
They mentioned low pay was “pushing nursing staff out of the profession and putting patient care at risk”, and referred to as for the double-figure wage rise, together with enhancements to working circumstances.
But the federal government has frequently refused to re-open negotiations on the subject of pay, saying it was proper to stay to the advice of the impartial pay overview physique of round 4% when public funds are struggling.
Two strike days happened in December, with two additional walkouts going down in the present day and tomorrow – with hundreds of nurses on strike at greater than 55 NHS trusts in England.
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The well being service is more likely to be working a financial institution holiday-style service in lots of areas over the times of commercial motion.
Thousands of operations and appointments are anticipated to be cancelled because of the strikes – with virtually 30,000 having needed to be rescheduled following the motion taken by nurses earlier than the brand new 12 months.
Hundreds joined a march in the direction of Downing Street in assist of hanging colleagues.
Nurses ‘completely heartbroken’
Many nurses and ambulance staff can even go on strike on the identical day subsequent month – 6 February – because the pay dispute with the federal government reveals no indicators of reaching a decision.
Ms Cullen, chief govt and common secretary of the RCN, mentioned earlier that nurses really feel “totally heartbroken” at occurring strike, however haven’t any alternative.
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She urged the federal government to get again across the desk to “resolve this dispute” however mentioned no talks are presently scheduled.
A brand new YouGov ballot of two,000 UK adults discovered that almost all of persons are not assured that they’d get the therapy they wanted in the event that they referred to as 999 with a well being emergency.