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Strikes in ‘no one’s interest’, says Health Sec as paramedics walk away

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Health Secretary Steve Barclay warned on Wednesday that strikes in the NHS were “in nobody’s interest” as paramedics were due to strike within weeks.

The cabinet minister said he “deeply regretted” that some staff were planning industrial action.

He spoke out when Britain’s largest trade union, Unison, said that ambulance workers in England planned to strike before Christmas, while nurses were also planning strikes.

Mr Barclay said: “I am extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of NHS staff and deeply regret that some will take industrial action – which is in nobody’s interest as we approach a challenging winter.

“Our priority is to keep patients safe during strikes and the NHS has been trialling and testing plans to minimize disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate.

“My door is open to discuss with the unions how we can make the NHS a better place to work.”

Mr Barclay added: “Our economic conditions mean that union demands are unaffordable – each additional 1 per cent wage increase for all employees on the Agenda for Change contract would cost around £700 million a year.

“We have prioritized the NHS with record funding and fully accepted the recommendations of UKTN pay review body to give more than one million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, with those with the lowest salaries receiving a raise to a maximum of 9.3 percent.

“This is on top of the 3 percent last year when public sector wages were frozen and wider government support for the cost of living.”

More to come

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