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Steve Barclay back as health secretary – will he address nurse pay?

Union calls on the reinstated health secretary to show nurses ‘he has learnt from previous mistakes’ and warns that they could be striking within days

Union calls on the reinstated health secretary to show nurses ‘he has learnt from previous mistakes’ and warns that they could be striking within days

It’s back to business for Steve Barclay, who has been reinstated as health and social care secretary by new prime minister Rishi Sunak, just seven weeks after he was replaced by Thérèse Coffey.

Mr Barclay, who briefly served in the role from July to September after the resignation of Sajid Javid, said he was ‘delighted’ to return to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Union calls on the reinstated health secretary to show nurses ‘he has learnt from previous mistakes’ and warns that they could be striking within days

Steve Barclay returns as health and social care secretary
Steve Barclay returns as health and social care secretary. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

It’s back to business for Steve Barclay, who has been reinstated as health and social care secretary by new prime minister Rishi Sunak, just seven weeks after he was replaced by Thérèse Coffey.

Mr Barclay, who briefly served in the role from July to September after the resignation of Sajid Javid, said he was ‘delighted’ to return to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Government must protect nursing to protect the public, says union

A loyal backer of Mr Sunak, Mr Barclay replaced Ms Coffey, who served a secretary of state for health and social care for just seven weeks, and will be the fourth change to the position in as many months.

As he returned to the cabinet, the RCN called on Mr Barclay to show nurses ‘he has learnt from previous mistakes’ and warned that nurses could be striking within days of his return.

General secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘Last time in this job, the health secretary handed down the NHS pay cut we are currently balloting our members on. Within days, he will find out the result of that and the historic strike action that may result from it.

‘Health and care is the bedrock of modern Britain, but it’s crumbling. The UK government must protect nursing to protect the public.’

During his short spell as health secretary this summer Mr Barclay oversaw the £1,400 pay offer to nurses, and also announced a scheme to fly NHS managers to India and the Philippines to recruit nurses to work in social care.

Before becoming the MP for North East Cambridgeshire in 2010, Mr Barclay worked at the Financial Services Authority and was head of anti-money laundering at Barclays bank.

NHS staff react angrily to a departing tweet by Thérèse Coffey

Meanwhile, Ms Coffey, one of former prime minister Liz Truss’s closest friends in Westminster, was demoted from deputy PM and health secretary to become secretary for environment, food and rural affairs.

NHS staff reacted angrily to a departing tweet by Ms Coffey, who thanked civil servants working in the DHSC, claiming they had ‘achieved a lot in seven weeks’.

One person said: ‘Achieved a lot? You didn’t get fired, you told nurses if they weren’t happy they could leave the profession, and you recommended people gave away antibiotics. That’s a fairly low bar. Explains everything about this government.’

Another responded: ‘What did you achieve apart from alienating NHS staff by saying they could leave if they wanted to?’


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