The Health Secretary has hit out at junior doctors for refusing to “move from a 35% demand” in a pay increase and criticised them for “walking away” from negotiations.
The British Medical Association (BMA) which is the junior doctor’s union are demanding a 35% pay increase to bring back their pay levels to 2008 levels.
Steve Barclay told Sky News on Sunday that the junior doctors during the three weeks of talks earlier this year had “refused to move.”
He added, “It was the junior doctors sadly who walked away from the discussions and called a further strike.”
In March the doctors went on strike for three days then four days in April and again for three days in June, the BMA accused the government of refusing to negotiate.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme he said the strikes are “concerning” and the 35% pay restoration is not “affordable in the context of inflation and the other pressures” on the economy.
He told Ridge that the junior doctors are refusing to negotiate, Barclay said, “We have [talked to them], we had three weeks of talks… the department agreed to bring in an intermediary.
“But not withstanding [the intermediary’s] excellent work, the discussions that we had with the junior doctors to date, they have refused to move from a 35% demand.
“I don’t think that in the context of the wider economy, [with] the need to get inflation down, that is a fair demand.”
Barclay acknowledged that “both sides need to move” to find an agreement, and added the government are “willing to do so,” but not the 35% pay restoration demands.
The Health Secretary then said, without the strikes being called off, there’s little room for negotiation.
He said, “We have been consistent, not just in health but in all departments, that if people suspend the strikes then we can get round the table and have talks, but at the moment the junior doctors have walked away from the talks.
“We were in middle of discussions with them.
“There were a range of other factors that they have raised with me in terms of annual leave that is often cancelled at short notice, rotas that are changed, some of the wellbeing issues around circumstances in hospitals.
“We are happy to discuss [those issues].”