Nursing strikes to go ahead as health secretary ‘refuses to discuss pay’ in last-ditch talks

Nursing strikes to go ahead as health secretary ‘refuses to discuss pay’ in last-ditch talks

The nurses’ strike will go ahead as planned on Thursday after last-minute talks broke down without a new wage deal.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay told the head of the Royal College of Nursing, Pat Cullen, that any further pay rise would mean taking money away from front-line services and reducing the backlog of £7.1m.

He said he would continue to interact with the RCN on “non-payment issues.”

Ms Cullen said: “The government was true to its word: they didn’t talk to me about salary. I needed to come out of this meeting with something serious to show the nurses why they shouldn’t go on strike this week. Unfortunately, they are not getting an extra penny.

“Ministers had very little to say and I had to speak at length about the unprecedented strength of sentiment in the profession.

“I expressed my deep disappointment at the belligerence: They closed their books and left.”

It is understood that the topics of the meeting were not previously agreed.

The news came when it was learned that the government plans to use taxis to transport patients to the hospital in the two days of strike by ambulance drivers.

NHS Minister Will Quince told the House of Commons that the most urgent calls to 999, such as heart attacks and strokes, which fall under categories 1 and 2, will be answered by paramedics on December 21 and 28. , when Unite, Unison and GMB strikes are planned. .

But the less serious cases, classified as categories 3 and 4, could be answered by taxi drivers booked by England’s NHS and the Government. Taxis would be paid for in advance by the NHS or the Government.

The plan underscores concerns from experts that the Army’s deployment will not be enough to prevent serious disruption to the NHS.

The plan was discussed at the first of two Cobra meetings by ministers and officials as they try to lessen the impact of the UK’s worst period of industrial action since the 1970s.

Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden, who chaired the government’s emergency planning committee meeting, called on the hundreds of thousands of workers planning strikes over the next two weeks to call off the strikes and “give a I breathe families” during Christmas.

Downing Street admitted there would be major disruption to the country, particularly the NHS, which will be hit by two days of nurses’ strikes, including this Thursday, and two days of ambulance strikes on December 21 and 28.

The government will launch a public information campaign ahead of the NHS strikes warning people that they will not get the level of service normally expected and to only seek medical help if urgently needed.

Speaking after chairing Cobra, Dowden said the government was planning a full-scale disruption but could not “eliminate all risks.”

He added: “A fair and reasonable thing for unions to do, particularly at a time when winter is biting and we are suffering the consequences of the Ukraine and indeed the covetous situation to carry out those strikes, give families a rest, particularly in this winter time.”

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Union leaders, NHS and government officials are discussing which calls will be answered by their members in the two days of the strike, but these are likely to be the most pressing conditions.

But Alan Lofthouse, a national official for Unison, suggested they might even reject “care of life and limb”, telling Sky News: “The problem is, if the government doesn’t start talking to us, the Staff will get more and more frustrated with this.” war against them as they see the rhetoric of the government”.

About 750 military have been deployed to help drive ambulances on strike days, but soldiers are legally barred from conducting “blue light” cases like categories 1 and 2, which involve running red lights.

NHS trusts already use taxis to transport patients to hospital on an ad hoc basis, but this is the first time that taxi companies will block-book across the country to support 999 calls.

The move is likely to increase tensions with unions as taxi drivers will be asked to break picket lines to take non-urgent patients to hospital.

Category 1 calls involve an immediate threat to life, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest, and are supposed to be answered within 15 minutes, while Category 2 calls cover stroke or chest pains and you must get a response within 40 minutes.

Category 3 covers things like an uncomplicated but urgent problem, like a diabetic problem that requires treatment and transport to the hospital and must be answered within two hours.

Category 4 involves non-urgent problems, such as patients who are stable but still need transport to a hospital or clinic. These are supposed to be answered within three hours.

Ambulance workers and some staff from the Scottish National Health Service called off parallel strikes after accepting an average 7.5 percent deal from the government of Nicola Sturgeon, putting pressure on the Sunak administration to reach an agreement.

Another 1,400 civil servants have volunteered to show up at airports and ports for customs and passport checks when Border Force personnel go on strike for eight days over Christmas and New Year.

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