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Health secretary labelled ‘deluded’ for inaction over nurse pay

Unions respond to Steve Barclay’s BBC interview and his ‘inability to see the urgency of this situation’ despite looming nurse strike announcements

Unions respond to Steve Barclay’s BBC interview and his ‘inability to see the urgency of this situation’ despite looming nurse strike announcements

Unions have branded health and social care secretary Steve Barclay as ‘deluded’ after he showed no intention of starting pay talks ahead of nursing strike announcements.

Following Mr Barclay’s appearance on BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme yesterday, the RCN said it found his lack of urgency disturbing.

Mr Barclay said he had been talking to the union but ‘it’s not

Unions respond to Steve Barclay’s BBC interview and his ‘inability to see the urgency of this situation’ despite looming nurse strike announcements

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay speaking on BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme. Picture: BBC

Unions have branded health and social care secretary Steve Barclay as ‘deluded’ after he showed no intention of starting pay talks ahead of nursing strike announcements.

Following Mr Barclay’s appearance on BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme yesterday, the RCN said it found his lack of urgency disturbing.

Mr Barclay said he had been talking to the union but ‘it’s not simply just about pay’. He added that the government ‘accepted in full the independent pay review body’s recommendations, that’s a minimum of a £1,400 increase’.

Union says inaction of government ‘will trouble every nurse’

Pat Cullen

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen wrote to Mr Barclay last week urging him to start formal negotiations on pay within five days, or the union would announce its intended strike days and locations for December.

After Mr Barclay’s BBC interview yesterday, Ms Cullen said: ‘The health secretary’s lack of intention and inability to see the urgency of this situation will trouble every nurse.

‘Just an hour after we again urged him to come to the negotiating table to have detailed, formal discussions on pay and patient safety, he showed no signs of doing so.’

‘People are dying because of cuts to services’

Mr Barclay told Ms Kuenssberg that he acknowledged the NHS was under ‘severe pressure’ but insisted the pressures on the health service were ‘predominantly’ to do with the pandemic.

GMB general secretary Gary Smith also appeared on Ms Kuenssberg’s programme yesterday, and said: ‘People are dying because of cuts to services, so I find that interview [with Mr Barclay] utterly dishonest and frankly the minister is deluded.’

Steve Barclay talking to Laura Kuenssberg yesterday. Picture: BBC

Deadline looms for strike announcements

Ms Cullen and Mr Barclay have had two previous meetings in the past month, but Ms Cullen wrote in her letter last week that she ‘must not let my members, nor the public, confuse these meetings for serious discussions on the issues of NHS pay and patient safety’.

She added that unless Mr Barclay follows the example of Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, who is currently in talks with the RCN, strike days for the rest of the UK would be announced this week.


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