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Health secretary tells striking NHS nurses: Take the money and patients will pay the price

Patients will suffer if ministers bow to nurses’ demands for pay rises, the health secretary has warned as tens of thousands of NHS staff walk out on today.

Steve Barclay told the Independent said any boost to wages would “take billions of pounds away from where we need it most”.

He wrote: “Unaffordable pay hikes will mean cutting patient care and stoking the inflation that would make us all poorer.”

Today tens of thousands of nurses will strike across 55 trusts. NHS data shows 4,567 operations and 25,009 outpatient appointments were cancelled during the nurse’s strikes on 15 and 20 December.

The NHS also faces further ambulance strikes next Monday, which sources indicate will go ahead, and new strikes are to be announced for February by union GMB.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) criticised Mr Barclay for “pitting nurses against patients”, branding the comments “a new low for the health secretary”.

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Source: The Guardian, 18 January 2023


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