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Strikes to go ahead despite reports of lump sum deal

Strikes to go ahead despite reports of lump sum deal
By Jess Hacker
10 January 2023

Nursing and ambulance strikes are set to go ahead, despite reports ministers were considering offering striking health workers a ‘one-off’ payment.

Ambulance workers are to take to the picket line again this week on 11 January and again on 23 January, with nurses due to strike on 18 and 19 January.

It follows reports that Rishi Sunak’s government is considering offering a ‘one-off’ payment to health workers.

The Guardian reported on Sunday that ministers are prepared to look at offering striking NHS workers a lump sum, reportedly in the form of a hardship payment to assist them through the winter.

However, such an offer was not raised during a meeting on Monday night between unions and health secretary Steve Barclay.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) described the talks as ‘bitterly disappointing’.

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Joanne Galbraith-Marten, the RCN’s director of employment relations and legal services, said that there was ‘no resolution’ yet ‘in sight’.

She suggested that no offers were made for the current year and that the unions were told that ‘the budget is already set’ for 2023/24.

‘This intransigence is letting patients down. Ministers have a distance to travel to avert next week’s nurse strike,’ she said.

It comes amid reports that Mr Barclay intends to bring forward the annual NHS pay review period, with the health secretary suggesting in an article in the Sunday Telegraph that health workers may receive a greater pay rise in April if they agree to ‘efficiencies’.

Last week, the Government issued an invitation to all trade unions to establish a ‘safety net’, which would see a minimum level of service to ‘ensure the public are not put at risk’.

The BMA said named the invitation ‘anti-worker’, and accused the Government of acting under ‘the false pretence of improving patient safety’.

Sir Kier Starmer, Labour leader, indicated he would repeal any anti-strike legislation passed under the current Government, suggesting they would ‘make a bad situation worse’.

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