Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, has said that he would be unable to match the salary demands of striking health workers.
Mr Streeting stated this morning that if he were the health secretary, he couldn’t “in all honesty” promise to meet nurses’ salary requests, but he would be willing to negotiate.
He told the Today show on BBC Radio 4:
“I have got to be really honest with you. I looked at the RCN’s headline claim of inflation plus five per cent.
“I can’t say in all honesty if I were the secretary of state for health today that I would be able to give that kind of pay award but I would be prepared to negotiate.”
He did, however, add that he understood why people voted for strike action since they feel “their backs are against the wall.”
Up to 100,000 nursing workers will go on strike in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland next month, in the first nationwide nurses’ strike in history.
The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) demand for a 19% salary increase are “obviously unaffordable.”
According to the RCN, experienced nurses are 20% worse off in actual terms as a result of consecutive below-inflation awards since 2010.
According to Mr. Streeting “there hasn’t been a single minute of negotiation from the Government with the unions” because he assumes ministers are counting on the public to “turn against the unions and back the Government”.
The shadow health secretary called this a “reckless” plan, adding that the “starting point” for resolving problems in the NHS should be how money is spent rather than the size of investment.
He told the Today show: “Our starting point should be how do we deliver fast, safe, great outcomes for patients utilising the technology and the scientific breakthroughs that are available to us in our country today, which we’re not harnessing.”