Health Secretary needs to get round table with unions

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The magnificent response of support and solidarity by the public for our South Yorkshire Healthworkers’ strike action on Monday was absolutely fabulous.

Six health unions representing nurses, porters and ambulance workers were joined for the first time ever by midwives.

It’s a clear sign of the scale of public support for health workers as they fight for a decent, living wage, and it illustrates just how out of touch David Cameron and his millionaire cabinet are when it comes to the NHS and caring for its staff.

The reality is that this industrial action could have been avoided had the Government implemented the recommendations of the independent NHS pay review panel instead of dismissing them out of hand.

This by those who have awarded themselves an obscene and whopping 11 per cent increase. So much for being all in this together.

Stop mouthing platitudes about valuing the service and start talking about how we pay this vital workforce a living wage.

It is quite clear that whatever warm words the Prime Minister mouths about our NHS he and his Health Secretary are not prepared to offer the workforce a fair deal on pay.

Instead they show disgraceful contempt for a dedicated workforce who have lost up to 15 per cent in pay since 2010 and face being denied a one per cent pay increase this year.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s continued refusal to sit down with health unions to try and find a solution has prompted widespread anger.

Mr Hunt needs to get around the negotiating table, otherwise he risks abdicating his responsibility not just to the NHS’s 1.4 million staff, but to the public who value their NHS and expect their government to do so too.

Ged Dempsey

Member of Unite National Executive