Business Secretary Grant Shapps has expressed his concern that the NHS are preparing for their “biggest” strike and that lives will put at risk.
On Monday the country could see the “biggest” strike day in NHS history as thousands of ambulance staff and nurses in England are to take industrial action.
Appearing on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Shapps was asked if the strike action will put lives at risk, he said, “I am concerned that it does, if you have a situation which has been happening so far where you don’t have co-operation between the back-up services – typically the Army – and the people who are striking.
“We have seen the situation where the Royal College of Nursing very responsibly before the strikes told the NHS ‘This is where we are going to be striking’ and they are able to put the emergency cover in place.
“Unfortunately we have been seeing a situation with the ambulance unions where they refuse to provide that information.
“That leaves the Army, who are driving the back-ups here, in a very difficult position – a postcode lottery when it comes to having a heart attack or a stroke when there is a strike on.
“We cannot have that situation. That is why I am introducing laws for minimum safety levels.”
Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham said neither Prime Minister or the Health Secretary Steve Barclay are willing to discuss pay with the union.
She told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, Barclay “is not telling the truth” when he claims that both sides are talking.
Graham added, “I can tell you categorically that there has been no conversations on pay whatsoever with Rishi Sunak or Steve Barclay about this dispute, in any way, shape or form.
“They’ve danced around their handbag, they danced around the edges but they will not talk about pay.
“To me, that is an abdication of responsibility (as) the dispute is about pay – so how can they say they are in talks?”
Labour has even come out and said that they would not be able to meet the pay rise wanted of 10%.
Speaking to Sky News, the Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds was asked if his party would give nurses a 10% pay rise, he said, “Realistically the top opening offer, we probably wouldn’t be able to meet that but we would negotiate.
“And fundamentally we have a much more compelling message about those workload problems because we’ve got that plan to abolish the non-dom rule for the super-rich and therefore use that revenue – over £3 billion – to vastly increase the numbers of doctors, nurses, midwives in the system.
“So that would be part of the negotiation.”
He added jokingly that the tells his children to behave as they “haven’t got time to go to A&E under a Tory Government.”