Labour would not meet the pay demands of striking NHS medics, the Shadow Health Secretary has confirmed.Junior doctors, who are seeking a 35 per cent
Labour would not meet the pay demands of striking NHS medics, the Shadow Health Secretary has confirmed.
Junior doctors, who are seeking a 35 per cent pay rise, today took to picket lines as part of their latest round of action in their ongoing dispute with the Government, while consultants staged walkouts earlier this week, in a bid for an 11 per cent rise.
The Government has offered the medics between six and 10 per cent, stating that this is their ‘final offer’.
However, Wes Streeting admitted that a 35 per cent rise is ‘not a policy that Labour will be able to afford’ and warned medics face waiting until the 2030s before their pay reaches this level.
The MP for Ilford North hit out at the strikes for inflicting ‘untold misery on patients’ who are ‘waiting in pain’ for vital appointments and operations that have been cancelled — and are ‘no doubt’ dying while stuck in the queue for care.
Wes Streeting admitted that a 35 per cent rise is ‘not a policy that Labour will be able to afford’ and warned medics face waiting until the 2030s before their pay reaches this level
Pictured: NHS consultants and junior doctors carry placards as they strike outside St Thomas’ hospital in London on September 20
Asked during an interview with GB News on what pay rise Labour would offer NHS medics, he said: ‘You’re going to have to compromise somewhere.
‘I have said to the doctors, look, 35 per cent overnight is not a policy that Labour will be able to afford, which has not made popular with everyone.
‘I’d rather be honest this side of an election than break promises the other side of the election if we win.’
Mr Streeting said he wanted to get the doctors ‘on the path to pay restoration’ — which would deliver the 35 per cent increase — but could not say when that might be achieved.
Asked if the doctors might have got their pay increase by the fifth year of a Labour government — which would be in 2029 or 2030, if they won the next general election — he said: ‘I don’t know about in one term.
‘But I will be willing to sit down and negotiate with the doctors, to say look I recognise the pressure you are under, what can we do to help you with the cost of living?’
Mr Streeting said Labour had resisted demands for big pay rises for public sector workers before the party’s election landslide in 1997, but delivered for them in the end.
He said: ‘We got them on the path of for pay restoration, in fact before the ’97 general election Labour was under enormous pressure to make the sort of commitments people are asking me to make now.
‘We are rightly reluctant to make promises unless they knew they could keep them. And yet that Labour government did deliver for pay restoration.’
Junior doctors today entered the final day of their latest round of industrial action. The walkout, which began at 7am on Wednesday, will end on Saturday morning.
Consultants also took to picket lines for 48 hours this week, marking the first time in the health service’s 75-year history that both groups of medics took coordinated strike action.
This left patients with ‘Christmas Day’ cover in hospitals, while emergency units staffed and a basic level of cover on wards.
Further joint action by both groups of medics are planned for October 2, 3 and 4.
Health leaders warned patients to expect five ‘Christmas Days’ in the next three weeks, meaning most non-emergency care has been cancelled.
Prior to this week’s walkouts, junior doctors staged 19 days of strike action this year, with consultants taking to the picket lines on four separate days.
Many routine hospital appointments and treatments, including cancer care, have been postponed as a result of industrial action, which is being coordinated by the British Medical Association (BMA).
Senior leaders expect the toll to hit one million as a result of the latest strikes, with 100,000 cancellations expected this week alone.
Consultants in England have taken to the picket lines on four separate days so far this summer, while junior doctors have staged 19 days of strike action this year. Both will return to the picket lines together on October, 2, 3 and 4. Radiographers are also set to join medics by walking out for 24 hours from 8am on October 3
Some 885,154 appointments have been postponed since NHS industrial action — which has involved staff including doctors, nurses and paramedics — kicked-off in December
England’s backlog, for procedures like hip and knee replacements, now stands at 7.6million, official figures revealed last week. It means roughly one in seven people across the country are currently stuck in the system awaiting care
The BMA argues that medics have seen their pay be eroded by 35 per cent over the last 15 years. As a result, junior doctors have called for a full 35 per cent pay uplift, while consultants set their pay demand at 11 per cent.
For comparison, the Government has offered junior doctors a pay rise between 8.1 and 10.3 per cent, while consultants have been offered 6 per cent.
Mr Streeting claimed he would end the doctor strikes by getting doctors and consultants ‘around the table and negotiate a way through’.
He said it was ‘outrageous’ that the Prime Minister hasn’t met with medics and that the Health Secretary Steve Barclay has not negotiated with the BMA since March.
‘Given alongside the cost of living, this is the biggest crisis in the country right now, I don’t understand why the Prime Minister isn’t giving this his full attention,’ he said.
‘And I’ve come to the conclusion, he’s basically said “I’ve made this pledge to cut waiting lists, I know I haven’t got a chance of meeting that now, at least if I can blame the doctors with these ongoing strikes, I’m off the hook”.’
It comes after it was revealed today that a patient’s operation to ease his crippling migraines has been cancelled twice due to strikes.
The patient’s wife Fiona Chapman, from Wadebridge, Cornwall, said her partner was due to undergo the procedure in June but it was called off due to industrial action by doctors.
His operation, which would place a device at the back of the head to zap nearby nerves and ease pain, was pushed back to August – before being cancelled again.
Ms Chapman, whose husband can no longer work due to his condition, was told by doctors that they hope to operate in October. But now he has been warned again that further walkouts by NHS staff could trigger further delays.
Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chairman of the BMA’s junior doctor committee, told Good Morning Britain: ‘I feel horrified that Fiona and her family and her husband have unfortunately had to have their appointments and surgeries in this instance rescheduled because of the continuous failures of our Government.
‘Our Government have allowed a workforce crisis to develop that has seen our waiting lists shoot up by millions over the past few years before any strike action.
‘And all we wanted to do was have a reasonable conversation with the Government about how doctors are underpaid and therefore not able to look after patients properly.
‘But they have ignored us and forced us into strike action and have made no effort to try and avert that strike action which is a completely different approach from what we’ve seen for our colleagues in Scotland.
‘So, I’m sorry to Fiona and her family, of course, for strike action causing disruption.
‘But it’s by nature that it has to be disruptive to put pressure onto the Government to come back to the table.
‘But in both instances the Government failed to act and this could have been avoided in the first place.’