Will nurses CALL OFF their Christmas strikes? Militant union offers fresh peace talks with ‘bullyboy’ Barclay in row over pay amid fears winter walkouts will cripple the NHS

  • Royal College of Nursing general secretary offered to ‘press pause’ on strikes
  • Pat Cullen said she would do so if Health Secretary negotiates pay properly 
  • RCN has accused Steve Barclay of deploying ‘bullyboy’ tactics against them 
  • Thousands of nurses due to take part in strike action on December 15 and 20 

The Royal College of Nursing has offered to ‘press pause’ on planned strike action if Health Secretary Steve Barclay agrees to negotiate properly on pay, amid fears that the winter walkouts will cripple an already struggling NHS.

The offer, first reported in The Observer, came on Saturday evening ahead of the first wave of planned strike action next week.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen, whose members are due to take part in unprecedented strike action on December 15 and December 20, told the newspaper that she was willing to press pause on the walkout by thousands of nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland if he agreed to come to the table and discuss a deal on pay demands.

The RCN has accused Mr Barclay of refusing to properly negotiate on pay, with the trade union on Friday accusing the Health Secretary of deploying ‘bullyboy’ tactics against a largely female workforce.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen (pictured), whose members are due to take part in unprecedented strike action on December 15 and December 20, said she was willing to press pause on the walkout by thousands of nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland if Steve Barclay agreed to come to the table and discuss a deal on pay demands

It comes as up to 100,000 nurses are due to take industrial action on two days in the run-up to Christmas, with the RCN warning that it would only commit to providing ‘life-preserving care’ on these days.

Services which do not meet this criteria include hospital discharges, radiotherapy and maternity services. 

The union is demanding the Government offer nurses a pay rise of 17.6 per cent, which has been dismissed as ‘unaffordable’ by the Prime Minister.

The default position will be that nurses will walk out of A&Es unless trust bosses persuade them they cannot deliver a safe service without them. 

‘Negotiate with nurses and avoid this strike,’ Ms Cullen said. ‘Five times my offer to negotiate has been turned down.

‘I will press pause on it when the Health Secretary says he will negotiate seriously on our dispute this year.

‘That means each of us giving some ground. He gains nothing by ignoring the representatives of the NHS workforce.

‘The public blames Government for this dire situation, and they have to face up to it. A swift change of tactics will pay off for all concerned.’

The RCN has accused Mr Barclay (pictured) of refusing to properly negotiate on pay, with the trade union on Friday accusing the Health Secretary of deploying ‘bullyboy’ tactics against a largely female workforce 

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting called it ‘an offer the Government can’t refuse’.

He tweeted that the two trade unions had ‘been clear that there is a deal to be done, but the Government must be prepared to negotiate’.

‘It’s time they put patients before Tory politics,’ he added.

Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of NHS England, has warned that some operations and scans will be cancelled if strike action does go ahead.

It comes as waiting lists are at a record high of 7.1million and as patients face life-threatening delays for an ambulance.

The three unions representing ambulance staff – Unite, Unison and GMB – have also voted in favour of industrial action.

It is understood they could coordinate strikes on December 20 for maximum impact.

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