Joint Scottish and Welsh calls for additional NHS funding to avert strike action

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Humza Yousaf and his Welsh counterpart have written to the UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay asking for more funding to help avert strike action this winter.

Mr Yousaf along with Eluned Morgan wrote to Mr Barclay ahead of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement next week in a bid to call for additional funding for hard-working NHS staff.

It comes after ambulance workers in Scotland voted to take industrial action for one day on November 28.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney and the Welsh Government minister for finance recently wrote to the Treasury in calls for additional funding for public services.

“The Royal College of Nursing have announced a sweeping legal mandate for industrial action across the UK. In Scotland, they have joined several other unions representing NHS staff in gaining a legal mandate for industrial action with ballots expected to confirm a mandate in the rest of the UK.

“The risk to the NHS of industrial action this winter is profound, and we all need to do all we can to avert industrial action in any form.

The NHS across the UK continues to feel the effects of the pandemic as it recovers and remobilises, and any action is likely to have catastrophic effects in all parts of the UK.

“We are experiencing a cost of living crisis and the anger of NHS staff is entirely understandable.

“Sky rocketing inflation combined with high-interest rates, a direct result of the havoc caused by the UK Government’s mini-budget, means that we are simply unable to come close to matching the expectations of NHS staff across the country.

“While the support provided by the UK Government on areas such as support for energy bills is welcome, it has not gone nearly far enough.

“Media reports suggest that the Chancellor is considering reimposing austerity on the people of the UK again, for which there is no mandate, through extensive spending cuts. That would be a disaster for our public services, including the NHS, at a time when they need more investment, not less.

“We would therefore implore you to work with us to make the case to the Chancellor in advance of his autumn statement for increased funding for the NHS and the devolved governments as a whole, primarily to pay our hard-working NHS staff a fair pay rise in the face of the cost-of-living crisis this winter, and avoid what could be catastrophic industrial action in the NHS.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We are investing record amounts in health and social care and the Chancellor has been clear that protecting public services like the NHS is a priority.

“We are hugely grateful for the hard work of NHS staff, including nurses, and that’s why we accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body in full and have given over one million NHS workers in England a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year.

“This is on top of a 3% pay increase last year when public sector pay was frozen and wider Government support with the cost of living.”

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