New NHS strikes announced after nurses pause action to join talks
NHS workers have announced another strike date, dealing a fresh blow to the Government in negotiations with nurses.
In a move that could throw cold water on hopes of a breakthrough in industrial action crippling the NHS, Unison said its members will take action again on March 8.
Unison’s new strike date includes paramedics, blood collection workers, health workers, cleaners, porters – and even some nurses.
Ambulance workers at Unite had already planned strikes for March 6th and 20th.
Junior doctors announced Monday they would also take action for three days next month.
RCN nurses yesterday said they would halt strike plans next week while holding talks with Steve Barclay today.
But the bosses of Unison and Unite – who represent thousands of ambulance workers and other NHS workers – slammed into No. 10 for not inviting them to the table too.
It comes after hospital bosses warned deepening strikes could derail No 10’s plans to clear the backlog.
Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea announced the new dates this afternoon, saying: “Unfortunately for patients, staff and everyone caring for the NHS, the strikes continue.
“There can be no pick-and-mix solution. NHS workers in five unions are involved in strikes over pay, staff and patient care.
“Choosing to speak to one union and not others will not stop the strikes and could make a bad situation that much worse.”
She added: “By engaging in one-on-one talks, the Prime Minister is condemning patients to many more months of disruption.”
The BMA, which is organizing the junior doctors’ strike, was also holding talks with the Department of Health today, but bosses said they were “disappointed” that Mr Barclay did not take part.
dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the Junior Doctors Committee, said: “There was no offer on the table and the department has made it clear that it is not ready to start negotiations.
“We have now written to Health Secretary Steve Barclay asking to meet him within the next 24 hours.
“To be honest, he dragged his heels way too long.”
Downing Street, meanwhile, declined to comment on the new talks with the RCN, stressing it was correct that the talks were “private”.
No10 said it wanted a deal that was “fair” to all taxpayers.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are now at a stage of discussions which starts today and will continue over the coming days, so I will not comment on the details of these discussions while they are taking place.
“We want to achieve a fair deal for all taxpayers. That’s our goal. First of all, we haven’t had a first meeting yet, so we’re going to let that happen.”
No10 declined to go into details of the talks.
The spokesman said: “I think as there are discussions we will not go into what is on the table.
“We think it is right to keep these talks private, as I believe the RCN is doing.”
Ahead of Unison’s announcement yesterday, RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said she was “confident” of reaching an agreement on nurse pay.
She told Sky News: “Very pleased to announce that the Government has agreed to enter into a period of intensive talks with the Royal College of Nursing.
“I am confident that we can agree on fair remuneration for our nurses.
“The finer detail needs to be worked out but I am very encouraged by the Prime Minister’s intervention and we will certainly, as we have always said, put our plans on the table.
“They can put their plans on the table, but I’m confident that we will come out with fair compensation for our nursing staff.”
Ms Cullen added: “I stand by this in good faith, I think this is a significant step forward, every nurse in England today can breathe a sigh of relief and more importantly our patients can.
“So let’s get down to the table tomorrow, I am very confident with the change from government and we will certainly do our best to ensure a fair wage deal is struck for all of our nurses.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) had planned strikes for 48 hours from March 1st.
The union said talks would focus on pay, with both sides “committed to finding a fair and reasonable solution”.
The Department of Health confirmed talks will focus on pay, “terms and conditions and productivity-enhancing reforms.”
The RCN originally called for a 19 per cent increase but has indicated it will settle for less.
Tens of thousands of other appointments and surgeries had to be postponed in March, and around 150,000 were already affected by strikes.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust boss Nick Hulme said further strikes would have “a significant impact on what is already worryingly high waiting times”.
In England, 7.2million people are on NHS waiting lists and many have had to wait months for treatment.
Young doctors are demanding a 26 per cent pay rise, which Health Secretary Maria Caulfield has called “unrealistic”, adding strikes would “put patients at risk”.
dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, acknowledged that the strikes “could disrupt emergency care and pose a risk to patient safety”.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/7462507/nurses-pause-strike-action-talks-over-pay/ New NHS strikes announced after nurses pause action to join talks