Nurses threatening strike action are being 'ridiculous', says health secretary Jeremy Hunt
Nurses threatening industrial action if their pay and conditions are threatened by the Conservatives’ NHS changes are being “ridiculous”, Jeremy Hunt has said.
The Health Secretary accused the Royal College of Nursing of “jumping the gun” on the basis that the government had drawn up its final proposals yet.
“It is ridiculous, jumping the gun. We have not made any proposals about nurses terms and conditions,” he told Sky News
“Remember, we already have nurses working 24-7 in hospitals. In fact we have hospital sites offering a full seven-day service under the current conditions.”
Though he said he had not made any proposals, he did not rule out future cuts to pay and conditions.
Dr Peter Carter of the Royal College of Nursing said his colleges were “under huge strain” and that further cuts could do more harm than good.
“[Nurses] are very conscious of the tough economic circumstances that … and that’s why they’ve had to suck up five years of pay restraint,” he told the news channel.
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“What we’re saying is if you cut the pay of hardworking people, a situation will be made so much worse than it currently is. Nurses and our colleagues in other disciplines are under huge strain.”
In a speech today the Prime Minister outlined his plan for a seven-day NHS. The British Medical Association said David Cameron had not yet outlined how this would happen.
Nurses are worried that any plan could see unsocial hours pay curtailed or removed.
Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the exercise amounted to “empty headline grabbing” if the PM could not answer how the health service’s funding gap could be filled.
The Conservatives have pledged an extra £8bn for the NHS, which experts say is enough to keep the health service running at its current rate.
No costing have been released for the planned expansion in services to the weekend, however.
Independent News Service