Steve Barclay says doctors’ pay demand is unreasonable

Junior doctors vote for 72-hour strike in March

Health Secretary Steve Barclay accused junior doctors of being unreasonable by refusing to budge on their demand for a 35 percent pay rise.

Mr Barclay said yesterday there needs to be “movement on all sides”.

He said: “They’ve refused to move from the 35 percent. And I don’t think that is a fair and reasonable demand for them to take.

“We want to engage with them, we have been doing. It’s the junior doctors who walked away from those negotiations by calling strikes.”

Junior doctors are set to walk out for 72 hours in June after pay talks stalled. It will be the third time junior doctors in England have staged strikes this year following industrial action in March and April.

The Health Secretary insisted the government had already improved its pay offer from what was originally recommended by the independent pay review body.

Ministers offered a five percent pay rise but Dr Vivek Trivedi, who co-chairs the British Medical Association Junior Doctors Committee, said this would amount to “a massive real-terms pay cut” because of rising prices.

He said: “It was clear that after the government offered us their five percent…They were the ones who wouldn’t budge.”

Discussing resolving the dispute, Dr Trivedi said: “We’re eager and ready to get back to the negotiating table. The Government are refusing to meet us there.

“We have budged and are very happy to explore ways to fully restore our doctor’s pay and we’ve come up with a variety of proposals to do that.”

The BMA says junior doctors have seen pay cut by 26 percent since 2008 once inflation – the rate prices are rising – is considered.

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Dr Trivedi said a pay offer which did not reverse this trajectory “would not be fair or reasonable”.

Mr Barclay said he will not renegotiate pay with nurses, adding it would not be “legally possible”.

The Royal College of Nursing is balloting almost 30,000 members on whether to take further strike action.

Mr Barclay said they “had a very constructive meeting this week” – but described what was offered previously and accepted by the NHS Staff Council as a “full and final” offer.

This offer amounted to a five percent pay rise, plus a cash top-up.

Mr Barclay said: “It means a band six, entry-level nurse gets over £5,000 over the two years.

“It’s not possible to give a band six nurse different pay to a band six midwife or a band six paramedic.”

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