The NHS is set for its biggest strike in recent history on Monday, with nurses, ambulance staff and paramedics in England and Wales set to walk out, as the blame game between ministers and unions escalates.
Tens of thousands of nurses are expected to take part in industrial action across 73 NHS trusts supported by the Royal College of Nursing. About 12,000 ambulance workers affiliated with the GMB or Unite unions will also walkout.
Health unions are calling upon the government to re-examine the pay recommendations made by the independent pay review body for the current financial year 2022-23. It gave a £1,400 wage increase to over 1 million employees.
Government officials have repeatedly argued that an increase in the public sector risks worsening inflation. But they have committed to discussing working conditions, wider investment in the NHS and wage settlement for the upcoming 2023-24 financial year.
Business Secretary Grant Shapps on Sunday expressed concern over the impact of the attacks on public safety, warning that patients faced a “postcode lottery” over emergency care.
NHS England has urged the public to only call 999 services in the case of “medical or mental health emergencies”, and warned that patients whose condition was not life-threatening should be called “by ambulance on strike days”. cannot be found”.
According to NHS figures, around 27,826 scheduled inpatient elective procedures and outpatient appointments had to be rescheduled due to the RCN strike on 18 and 19 January.
“We have seen the situation where the Royal College of Nursing very responsibly told the NHS before the attacks ‘this is where we are going to strike’ and they have been able to put emergency cover in place,” Shapps told Skies sophie ridge on sunday Program.
“Unfortunately we are seeing a situation with ambulance unions where they refuse to provide that information,” he continued. “This leaves the military, who are running backup here, in a very difficult position – a postcode lottery when there is a heart attack or a stroke when there is one”.
Health associations accused the minister of misrepresenting the situation and slammed the government for failing to have a meaningful discussion on salaries.
Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, told the BBC: “The idea that he is saying that ambulance crews did not cover the minimum in the dispute is an absolute lie.” with sunday laura kuensberg,
“I can tell you categorically that we are not negotiating with the government at any level at any stage about pay in the NHS, and that is a real abdication of responsibility,” she told Sunak “to come to the table. and asked to negotiate”. ,
This sentiment was echoed by GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison, who said that “it has been almost a month since the government has engaged in any meaningful dialogue”.
“The NHS is crumbling. , , The government needs to wake up and talk now,” she said.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said strike action would “inevitably lead to further delays for patients”, and called on unions to engage with the government to discuss wage settlement for this coming year.
“I have held constructive talks with the trade unions on pay and affordability and continue to urge them to call off the strike,” he continued. “It is time for trade unions to look ahead and engage in a constructive dialogue about the wage review body process for the coming year.”
Last week, the GMB union and the RCN called off a walkout in Wales on Monday following an offer of pay by the Cardiff government. The proposal, which includes an additional 3 per cent, has been backdated to April 2022, increasing the pressure on Sunak’s government to follow suit.
In a letter to Sunak sent over the weekend, RCN general secretary Pat Cullen warned that the UK government looks “increasingly isolated” in its decision not to reopen wage negotiations for 2022-23.
“I’m urging you to use this weekend to reset your government in the public eye and demonstrate that it is on the side of the hardworking, decent taxpayer,” she wrote.