Last-ditch talks in NHS pay dispute

Published: Wednesday 21st January 2015 by The News Editor

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Crucial talks are to be held in a last-ditch bid to avert a strike by thousands of NHS workers in a bitter dispute over pay.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called in officials from several unions last night to try to persuade them to call off planned walkouts in England and Northern Ireland next week.

After meeting for over an hour it was announced that fresh negotiations will be held today.

The industrial action remains on for January 29 as unions continue to criticise the Government for refusing to accept a recommended 1% pay rise for all NHS staff.

Christina McAnea, national officer of Unison, said the minister had not committed to more money for pay.

“But it is good that we are still talking about trying to find a way to resolve the pay issue and maintain staffing levels,” she added.

“Unions have agreed to have further talks over the next 24 hours and will meet again with the Secretary of State to see if there is a way out of this dispute and to ensure that patients’ safety remains a priority.”

GMB national officer Rehana Azam said: “GMB welcome this first opportunity to have talks with the Secretary of State for Health to see if we can avert the strikes in the NHS.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “We welcome these talks between the Health Secretary and unions which aim to ensure patient safety is maintained during periods of industrial action.

“Employers are already preparing to minimise disruption to patients during next week’s action. Our immediate focus must be to continue good local partnership working and communication between employers and unions, ensuring safe emergency care on the day and efficient rescheduling of appointments when necessary.

“We continue to believe that striking isn’t the right solution and only disrupts and distresses patients. We need to find a way to resolve this dispute with a long-term sustainable plan which takes us past this period of pay restraint.”

Published: Wednesday 21st January 2015 by The News Editor

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