February 4, 2023

Ministers are considering a new offer of health workers to avoid NHS strikes next week.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay will hold another round of talks with union leaders in the coming days ahead of planned strikes by nurses.

Sources in Whitehall said ministers were working on options to resolve the strikes, including a one-off payment to reflect cost-of-living pressures.

A source said there was recognition that union leaders should “get something for this year” before considering calling off the current wave of union action.

However, talks about what level of payment could be offered and how this would be funded are still at an early stage.

Sources in Whitehall said ministers were working on options to resolve the strikes, including a one-off payment to reflect cost-of-living pressures. Pictured: Kate Bell, newly appointed Assistant to Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress, delivers a speech of solidarity for the striking aid workers, Waterloo, London, January 11, 2023

Health Secretary Steve Barclay will hold another round of talks with union leaders in the coming days ahead of planned strikes by nurses, January 10, 2023

Health Secretary Steve Barclay will hold another round of talks with union leaders in the coming days ahead of planned strikes by nurses, January 10, 2023

No formal proposal has been submitted to the Treasury, and a government source said there were no plans “at the moment” to provide additional funding, meaning ministers would need to ensure efficiency to pay for it.

There are also concerns that any payment to resolve the health dispute would set a precedent for other sectors affected by industrial strife, including education and transport, potentially leaving taxpayers with a multibillion-pound bill. The moves came as 25,000 ambulance workers staged a second day of strikes yesterday and warned unions they could boycott talks over the next pay round, scheduled for April.

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Fourteen unions representing more than a million health workers said yesterday they would not submit evidence to the independent NHS pay scrutiny body for the next pay round as long as current disputes remain unresolved.

Sara Gorton, from Unison, said: ‘The pay review body’s process does not fit the current context. The NHS workforce crisis is so acute that only swift action on pay, both for this financial year and next, can turn things around.”

Government sources said the wage review process would continue with or without union input, but urged them to reconsider. Downing Street said the unions had originally campaigned for the wage review process to be set up. A spokesman said: “It is disappointing that they have taken this step.”

No formal proposal has been submitted to the Treasury, and a government source said there were no plans to provide additional funding at this time.  Pictured: ambulances on the grounds of Wellington Barracks, London, January 11, 2023

No formal proposal has been submitted to the Treasury, and a government source said there were “no plans at this time” to provide additional funding. Pictured: ambulances on the grounds of Wellington Barracks, London, January 11, 2023

Ambulance bosses yesterday urged people to call 999 only for life or limb emergencies and admitted that non-life-threatening cases were ‘unlikely’ to be called. The two striking unions – Unison and the GMB – said members would respond to the most life-threatening “category one” calls, where someone is not breathing or their heart has stopped.

But there was no guarantee that callers would get an answer to lower-category calls, such as heart attacks, strokes, and falls. Soldiers were called up to drive ambulances yesterday as paramedics, drivers, technicians and call handlers went on strike across England and Wales. Ambulances were photographed on the grounds of Wellington Barracks, in central London, and the South Western Ambulance Service confirmed it would receive ‘military support’.

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The same restrictions remained from the previous strike last month, in which military personnel were unable to provide clinical care, drive through red lights or turn on blue lights. Rishi Sunak said during the prime minister’s questions: “What’s frightening is that at the moment people don’t know if when they call 999 they will get the treatment they need.”

There are also concerns that any payment to resolve the health dispute would set a precedent for other sectors facing industrial conflict.  Pictured: An ambulance worker lights a campfire, Waterloo, London, January 11, 2023

There are also concerns that any payment to resolve the health dispute would set a precedent for other sectors facing industrial conflict. Pictured: An ambulance worker lights a campfire, Waterloo, London, January 11, 2023

NHS Providers, representing health trusts, warned the NHS would be hit harder by yesterday’s strike than last month as more staff, including call handlers, took action. It would have to deal with ‘pent-up demand’ in the coming days.

Saffron Cordery, the interim director of NHS Providers, said the NHS was able to “step forward and manage” during union action, but it had a “domino effect” on waiting lists and “treated people who needed it”. have in a current fashion’.

Some NHS trusts in London warned yesterday that women giving birth at home may have to go to hospital themselves in an emergency.

Meanwhile, just one in eight people (13 per cent) would now trust an ambulance to take them to hospital in an emergency due to the crisis in NHS care, a survey of 1,836 adults for ITV’s Good Morning Britain found.

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