UK govt refuses to give way on pay as nurses, medics strike

Dec 19, 2022, 2:16 PM | Updated: Dec 20, 2022, 9:00 am
Nurses demonstrate and hold placards as they take strike action over pay outside St Mary's Hospital...

Nurses demonstrate and hold placards as they take strike action over pay outside St Mary's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS (National Health Services) organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

              Nurses demonstrate and hold placards as they take strike action over pay outside St Mary's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS (National Health Services) organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              Military personnel from the Household Division learn take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers on December 21 and 28 when members of the Unison, GMB and Unite unions take industrial action over pay, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
            
              Military personnel from the Household Division receive training in an ambulance, at Wellington Barracks as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers on Dec. 21 and 28 when members of the Unison, GMB and Unite unions take industrial action over pay, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
            
              A nurse holds a placard on the picket line as she participates in a strike action over pay in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS (National Health Services) organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              Military personnel from the Household Division learn learn how to carry a patient down a flight of stairs as they take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers on Dec. 21 and 28 when members of the Unison, GMB and Unite unions take industrial action over pay, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
            
              Nurses demonstrate and hold placards as they take strike action over pay outside St Mary's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS (National Health Services) organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              A nurse holds a placard on the picket line as she participates in a strike action over pay in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS (National Health Services) organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              Military personnel from the Household Division learn take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers on December 21 and 28 when members of the Unison, GMB and Unite unions take industrial action over pay, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
            
              Military personnel from the Household Division receive training in an ambulance, at Wellington Barracks as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers on Dec. 21 and 28 when members of the Unison, GMB and Unite unions take industrial action over pay, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
            
              Military personnel from the Household Division learn learn how to carry a patient down a flight of stairs as they take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers on Dec. 21 and 28 when members of the Unison, GMB and Unite unions take industrial action over pay, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
            
              Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) protest as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay, outside the Bristol Royal Infirmary, England, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
            
              Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) protest as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay, outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Jacob King/PA via AP)
            
              Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) protest as nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take industrial action over pay, outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Jacob King/PA via AP)
            
              A demonstrator holds up a placard in support of the strike by nurses outside St Thoma's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              Nurses stand by their placards as they join a picket line outside St Thomas's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              Two demonstrators hold a placard in support of the strike by nurses outside St Thoma's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              Two demonstrators hold up placards in support of the strike by nurses outside St Thoma's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              Demonstrators hold up placards in support of a strike by nurses outside St Thomas' Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members are expected to walk out at 65 NHS (National Health Services) organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
            
              A demonstrator on the picket line holds up placard in support of the nurses pay strike, as she waves to a supporter outside St Thomas's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Nurses in England, Wales and Ireland will stage the biggest strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Up to 100,000 members will walk out at 65 NHS organisations. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) — The British government said Tuesday it will not offer more money to nurses and ambulance crews to end strikes that are piling pressure on an already overstretched health system.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative administration is under pressure to increase its pay offer to health care staff who are seeking big raises in the face of decades-high inflation that was running at 10.7% in November.

Thousands of nurses walked off the job Tuesday in their second 24-hour strike this month. Ambulance drivers, paramedics and dispatchers are set to strike on Wednesday and again on Dec. 28.

The government says it will dispatch 1,200 troops to fill in for striking ambulance drivers and border staff, who are due to walk out later this week. Unions say ambulance crews will attend the most serious calls, but officials say they can’t guarantee everyone who needs an ambulance will get one.

Health Minister Will Quince suggested people avoid “risky activity” during the ambulance strike.

“If there is activity that people are undertaking tomorrow, whether it’s for example, contact sport or other things, they might want to want to review that,” he told BBC radio.

Railway staff, passport officers and postal workers are also staging walkouts in the U.K.’s biggest strike wave for decades, a response to a cost-of-living crisis driven by soaring food and energy prices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pat Cullen, head of nurses union the Royal College of Nursing, urged Sunak to “step in now and do the decent thing on behalf of every patient and member of the public of this country” by negotiating over pay. The union has asked for a raise of 5% above inflation but says it is willing to accept less.

The union says it will stage more strikes in January if there is no deal. Nurses have agreed to staff key areas including critical care and cancer services during the strikes, but thousands of operations and procedures have been canceled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nurses in Scotland are not on strike.

The government insists it can’t get directly involved in pay talks between unions and employers — but Sunak also told the Daily Mail that double-digit public sector raises would drive inflation even higher, which would “make people poorer in the long run.”

A meeting between Health Secretary Steve Barclay and leaders of three ambulance unions on Tuesday failed to produce a solution.

“The government have got to engage on pay because these strikes will escalate otherwise. That is the reality,” said Onay Kasab from the Unite union.

The government is calculating that public opinion will turn on the unions as people across the U.K. face postponed hospital appointments, canceled trains and travel delays during the winter holiday season. But opinion polls show a high level of support for the workers — especially nurses.

Britain’s health system is under strain from surging demand as pandemic restrictions ease, alongside staff shortages from burnout and Brexit, which has made it harder for Europeans to work in the U.K.

Official statistics show that ambulances in many areas are stuck waiting outside hospital emergency departments, sometimes for hours, because there are no beds for the patients.

Rachel Harrison, national secretary of the GMB union representing ambulance staff, said the delays and backlogs were “having a devastating effect on our members — frustration, stress, burnout, exhaustion, low morale, mental health.”

On a picket line outside St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, nurse Rosie Wood said many of her colleagues were exhausted because of staff shortages.

“Nobody feels safe, because you’re always worried that you’ve missed something,” she said. “It’s not meant to be painful and stressful and horrible to come to work. So many people are unhappy in their jobs right now because they don’t get the joy out of caring for people because they just don’t feel they can do it properly.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

TV anchors T.J. Holmes, Amy Robach leave ABC amid romance

NEW YORK (AP) — T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, anchors at the afternoon extension of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” are leaving the network after their romance was reported in November. The pair were taken off the air and placed on temporary hiatus after photos surfaced of them holding hands and spending time together. Both were […]
1 day ago
From left, Sweden's Defense Minister Pal Jonson, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Foreign Ministe...
Associated Press

Finnish, Swedish FMs: NATO membership process hasn’t stopped

HELSINKI (AP) — The foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland reiterated in separate interviews published Saturday that the process for the two Nordic nations to join NATO is continuing despite Turkey’s president saying Sweden shouldn’t expect his country to approve its membership. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström acknowledged in an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Gregory Allen Howard who wrote ‘Remember the Titans’ dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard, who skillfully adapted stories of historical Black figures in “Remember the Titans” starring Denzel Washington, “Ali” with Will Smith and “Harriet” with Cynthia Erivo, has died. He was 70. Howard died Friday at his home in Miami after a brief illness, according to a statement from publicist […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Delaware Gov. John Carney tests positive for COVID-19

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Delaware Gov. John Carney has tested positive for COVID-19, the governor’s office announced on Saturday. Carney tested positive late Friday using an at-home antigen test after experiencing mild symptoms, according to a news release. Carney, 66, said he’s “feeling fine” and is isolating himself — following U.S. Centers for Disease Control […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Man accused in substation vandalism is released from custody

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — One of the two men charged with vandalizing electrical substations in Washington state over the holidays to cover a burglary was ordered released from federal custody Friday to seek substance abuse help. A federal judge issued the order for Matthew Greenwood, 32, after renewed efforts by his attorney to get Greenwood […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Dismissal of lawsuit over Columbus Day name change upheld

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit alleging that the mayor of Philadelphia discriminated against Italian Americans in renaming the city’s Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. A U.S. District judge ruled a year ago that the plaintiffs, a council member and three Italian American […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
UK govt refuses to give way on pay as nurses, medics strike