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Health Secretary Steve Barclay writes to unions for fresh strike talks – but still won’t move on pay | Politics News



Health Secretary Steve Barclay is said to be writing to unions to request new talks on strike action – but sources say he still won’t discuss a pay raise for them.

Both nurses and paramedics set to walk the stage this week amid constant anger over wages and working conditions.

The rector of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Pat Cullen, has suggested a strike if Mr Barclay opens up salary discussions.

But a government source insists he will only talk about “patient safety and non-payment issues”.

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The RCN is asking for an inflation-matched pay increase plus 5% for its members, but the government will only give it around 4%, following a summer recommendation by an independent pay review body – before inflation hit record highs.

Asked last night about reports Downing Street blocked the idea of ​​one-time payments to nurses to prevent strikes, Mr Barclay told reporters his conversations with Number 10 would kept secret.

Meanwhile, the minister questioned the safety of the upcoming ambulance strikes.

Staff will still respond to emergencies to the highest degree and are developing a response plan, while the government has a plan in place. enlist in the armed forces to fill some gaps, with 1,200 troops expected to be deployed.

Department heads will also meet later this morning to discuss the strikes at an emergency government Cobra meeting.

But Mr Barclay claimed “real arrangements” had yet to be confirmed by unions at this late stage.

“It’s important that unions honor the commitments they’ve made to protect both life-threatening and emergency responses,” he said.

“It’s important for everyone to prioritize patient safety, especially emergency and life-threatening calls.”

Solidarity leader Sharon Graham, who represents several ambulance workers, said the health minister would “have to shoulder the burden if the patient suffers”, telling the Daily Mirror he was “holding the country for ransom”. by refusing to discuss pay.

Trade unions also have attack plans to use Armed Forces personnelsay they are not “adequately trained” and may even be “hindered”.

Senior military officials have also criticized the move, with the head of the armed forces, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, warning that it would be “dangerous” if they were used regularly to cover strikes.

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