NHS ‘held hostage’ by pay deadlock as five more strikes set for January

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Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said that the Government could have ended the dispute before Christmas but had left the union with “no choice” but to strike again. 

The union has been campaigning for a pay rise of up to 19 per cent.

On Friday morning, Rishi Sunak did not rule out offering a one-off payment to help ease the cost of living crisis. 

Asked by Sky News, he said: “There’s lots of things that people have raised… that we might make a difference to and we’d be happy to talk about all those things and the Health Secretary has been clear his door, the Government’s door, is always open to have those talks.”

However, Ms Cullen said: “The Government had the opportunity to end this dispute before Christmas, but instead they have chosen to push nursing staff out into the cold again in January. I do not wish to prolong this dispute, but the Prime Minister has left us with no choice.”

Rachel Harrison, the GMB’s national secretary said: “People across the country have been wonderful in backing us and we care so much about them too. That’s why we are suspending the proposed GMB industrial action on December 28. We know the public will appreciate being able to enjoy Christmas without any additional anxiety.”

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