Nurses’ strikes, set to start this Thursday, now seem all but certain as talks between health and social care secretary Steve Barclay and the RCN ended in stalemate.
Having met with Mr Barclay yesterday last night, the RCN accused ministers of ‘belligerence’ for once again refusing to discuss the issue of pay.
With no new pay deal on the table, nurses are preparing to walk out of NHS employers across Wales, England, and Northern Ireland in a wave of historic industrial action on 15 December and 20 December, with more dates likely to be announced in January if no negotiations are held.
After their meeting, Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary said: ‘The Government was true to its word – they would not talk to me about pay.
‘I needed to come out of this meeting with something serious to show nurses why they should not strike this week. Regrettably, they are not getting an extra penny.
‘Ministers had too little to say and I had to speak at length about the unprecedented strength of feeling in the profession.
‘I expressed my deep disappointment at the belligerence – they have closed their books and walked away.’
This comes after foreign secretary James Clevely old Sky News that the Government was unable to discuss pay with nurses, as this would involve overturning the recommendations of the independent NHS pay review body.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said that Steve Barclay has ‘been repeatedly clear that his door is always open and arranged a meeting with the RCN as soon as they indicated they were willing to talk’.
They continued: ‘He again listened to the RCN’s position on pay and reiterated the government has agreed to the recommendations of the independent pay review body and prioritised the national health service with additional investment as announced in the Autumn Statement.’
The spokesperson also reiterated Mr Barclay’s claim that ‘any further pay increase would mean taking money away from frontline services and reducing the 7.2 million elective backlog’.