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Could the NHS be rescued by Monday’s negotiations?

On the same day as Rishi Sunak unveiled legislation to punish striking public sector workers, his government wrote to “all union leaders” inviting them for further negotiations on working conditions and pay in a bid to end the strikes.

The PM is set to introduce “minimum service levels” on public services like the NHS which in turn means striking workers could be sacked and unions organising the strikes could be sued.

Rishi Sunak claims to fully accept the role of unions in society - but this seems questionable at best given how he and his government are actively trying to deny them their rights to strike as any union should be able to in an established democracy.

This hasn’t been helped by right-wing newspapers continuously repeating the 19% pay rise the Royal College of Nursing had originally requested, seemingly pretending as though the 19% figure is set in stone and can’t be negotiated upon - and much of the public has unfortunately been convinced by this narrative,

Many people cite how nurses who go on strike are putting lives at risk, but truthfully, people are already dying unnecessarily even without strike action.

Dr Hilary on Good Morning Britain uncovered a heartbreaking message from a nurse who said that her NHS department had to make the decision to remove a critically ill patient from their hospital bed, into the corridor so another patient could take their place, because there were not enough beds, so they could pass away with some dignity. This is reportedly becoming a regular occurrence in this nurse’s department.

Upon the government’s announcement that it contacted every union leader for talks on Monday, the nursing union, RCN, said that they would walk into the negotiations asking for a 10% pay rise, almost half of their original request - these nurses are the heroes everyone clapped on a Thursday night during the Covid-19 pandemic, so a decent pay rise is the least they deserve from our government whilst the NHS remains on a ventilator.

Photo: Nursing Times

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