The head of the Royal College of Nursing has accused the health secretary of turning his back on nursing.
Pat Cullen told reporters that she believes the public backs the strikes, saying, “The public absolutely understands why nurses are doing this today. “Standing out in the cold this morning – put out in the cold by this government, with the door shut on them. “This is a tragic day for nursing, it’s a tragic day for the NHS.”
Regarding Health Secretary Steve Barclay, Ms Cullen said: “I went down last week full of hope to Steve Barclay’s office after he called me there, and there was a lot of optimism around. However, Mr. Barcley did not want to talk about pay, with no additional money offer.
Ms Cullen also defended her union’s demand for a 19% pay rise. This figure was calculated as a rise of 5% above RPI inflation. The government says it cannot afford such a figure.
Ms Cullen pointed out that higher pay was needed to attract candidates to fill 50,000 vacancies, and that nurses had been left using food banks and eating patients’ leftovers because of a lack of money