Daily Mail

Minister accused of ‘gaslightin­g’ in strike meeting with nurses

- By Sophie Huskisson Health Correspond­ent

HEALTH unions have accused the Health Secretary of ‘gaslightin­g’ and wasting their time during crunch talks to avert unpreceden­ted pay strikes.

It came as it was revealed the NHS could be so overstretc­hed that staff will have to break rules to treat patients.

Yesterday Steve Barclay met six NHS unions amid fears more than half their members could strike. But hopes of avoiding a crisis appeared to be fading after a union source branded the talks with the Health Secretary a ‘waste of time’.

The source told the Daily Mail that Mr Barclay had got together ‘a load of unions, with members who are so concerned about pay that they want to take strike action, refused to talk about pay, and then turned the tables to talk about patient care.

‘Someone said to me that it was a pretty impressive bit of gaslightin­g. If he’s not going to talk about pay then we’re not going to get very far.

‘Obviously patient safety is huge, but it all stems from pay, like vacancies stem from pay.’

Mr Barclay tweeted: ‘I hosted a roundtable with unions representi­ng a wide range of NHS staff today. ‘I reiterated my admiration for all healthcare workers and we discussed ways we can work together to make the NHS a better place to work. My door remains open and we will continue to meet.’ Rishi Sunak told ITV News: ‘We have enormous gratitude for our nurses, and indeed all the other workers in the NHS, for what they do and have done for us over the past couple of years.

‘But what the unions are asking for is a 17 per cent pay rise, and I think most people will understand that that’s unaffordab­le.’

The Royal College of Nursing, Unison, the Royal College of Midwives, the Chartered Society of Physiother­apy, GMB and Unite, all met Mr Barclay.

Approximat­ely one million NHS staff members, including junior doctors, midwives, IT staff and porters, could strike this winter.

The next result from unions balloting their members should be from Unison, which closes its vote on November 25 after asking 350,000 NHS workers whether they want to strike. The RCN saw staff at the majority of NHS employers vote for industrial action last week. GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said: ‘It’s not rocket science.

‘Give NHS workers a proper pay rise, that means they don’t have to use food banks or quit the service in droves.’

It came as a leaked letter from NHS chiefs and regulators to hospital bosses revealed that overstretc­hed staff ‘ may need to depart from establishe­d procedures to care for people’, due to ‘such challengin­g times’.

 ?? ?? Dispute: NHS staff want a 17% pay rise
Dispute: NHS staff want a 17% pay rise

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