Ministers have rebuffed a proposal by nursing unions to droop deliberate strikes in return for negotiations on pay, arguing that it was not attainable for the federal government to amend awards determined by the unbiased pay physique for NHS workers.
The international secretary, James Cleverly, advised Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday present that the well being secretary would fortunately check with the unions, however solely about enhancing NHS efficiency and dealing circumstances, and never about pay.
“After all, the well being secretary needs to check with the career about how we are able to make the job higher, how we are able to enhance the NHS efficiency for everyone. However finally pay is determined by an unbiased pay physique,” he mentioned.
“The purpose is, conferences are totally different from pay negotiations. Finally, unbiased our bodies are there for a purpose, to take the politics out of this type of stuff. And we respect the judgment they’ve made, and we’re implementing it.”
Labour’s Wes Streeting, the shadow well being secretary, mentioned ministers have been being “irresponsible”, and have been searching for responsible a disaster within the NHS this winter on hanging workers, relatively than searching for a answer.
In what had appeared the primary signal of a attainable answer to the primary UK nurses’ strike, starting over Christmas, the Royal School of Nursing (RCN) and the Unison union mentioned they may doubtlessly settle for a diversified pay rise throughout totally different grades, as not too long ago agreed in Scotland.
In an announcement to the Observer, Pat Cullen, the overall secretary of the RCN, mentioned she was ready to “press pause” on industrial motion if Barclay agreed to satisfy to focus on a attainable deal.
However whereas saying Barclay’s “door is open”, Cleverly successfully closed the pathway to pausing the strikes by insisting that the pay suggestion made in July of between 4% and 5% for NHS England workers excluding docs and dentists couldn’t be amended.
“I feel folks want to grasp that the negotiation on pay is accomplished by an unbiased pay assessment physique,” Cleverly mentioned, saying the federal government had accepted the assessment physique’s findings, and so the matter was closed.
Cleverly added: “He [Barclay] needs to check with well being professionals about how we drive efficiency within the NHS, how we be certain that that it’s a job they wish to do, all these items. However as I say, unbiased pay assessment our bodies do what we ask them to do, which is to assessment pay independently of the federal government. We settle for their suggestions.”
Whereas the pay assessment our bodies for NHS workers and different sectors do provide you with figures, these are only suggestions, and ministers should not have to just accept them.
1000’s of ambulance employees and different NHS workers throughout England and Wales are additionally because of strike on 21 December over pay.
Talking later to the identical programme, Streeting mentioned the federal government’s stance was “a whole joke”.
Unions had mentioned “very moderately” that they’d droop strike motion if there have been talks, Streeting mentioned. “It is totally unreasonable for the federal government to not wish to negotiate, and I feel they’re spoiling for a struggle,” he mentioned.
“They’re fairly pleased to see paramedics and nurses go on strike as a result of when the proverbial hits the fan this winter, they’re going to blame nurses and paramedics for an NHS disaster which is squarely the fault of a Conservative authorities and 12 years of mismanagement.
“I feel that’s harmful. I feel it’s reprehensible. I feel it’s irresponsible. And I feel sufferers will rightly blame the federal government not the unions if the strikes go forward.”
Requested what pay rise a Labour authorities would give nurses, Streeting mentioned he was “not going to pluck numbers out of skinny air”.