Hunt, as a former health secretary, is a catastrophic disappointment. Either he's abandoned his safe working principles or all along he's been a shyster.


On Sunday morning, in a letter to RCN chief Pat Cullen, Steve Barclay said he was “disappointed” at the rejection of the pay deal, but offered talks to “avoid this escalatory action” and made clear the offer still stood.

So, where are we? Not withstanding what might happen this week…

… here’s how I see it:

• Taking a stab at the numbers; around one in three nurses have voted to reject the deal the RCN Council recommended.

• A minority of the nearly 300,000, with skin in the game.

• Strike action resumes on 30th April, over the Bank Holiday. No derogations. Meaning; A&E, ITU and cancer patients in jeopardy.

• This is the last strike the RCN can organise under their current mandate. Their statutory six months period expires. They’ll have to re-ballot. This is expensive and takes time. Maybe a couple of months?

• Including the two weeks notice of strike action the RCN must give employers, it makes it unlikely we’ll see more action from the nurses this side of mid-July.

• On the 2nd May the NHS Staff Council will meet. By which time we’ll know the results from the other Unions. Unison have agreed. It’s likely the GMB will. Unite made no recommendations. Their members may refuse the deal. Other, unions are likely to agree.

• Bully-Boy will impose a settlement. Putting the money into the June wage packets.

• This could coincide with the RCN ballot to resume strike action. With Covid-bonus payments in bank accounts, an uplift in pay and only one in three nurses wanting to continue the fight… members could call it a day.

• The ballot could be very close.

• The RCN, unlike other unions, pay everyone strike pay. It’s a sliding scale. Taking the lowest amount, £50 per day and guessing 100,000 nurses all strike on the same day, that’s £5m a day.

• The RCN could run out of money by Christmas.

• The changes the RCN wanted to Agenda for Change and the PRBs are probably lost.

• This time, the ballot will ‘aggregate’ votes. Meaning, votes will be counted in total. All nurses from all Trusts could be called out, on the same day. Unlike last time where the votes were ‘disaggregated’, applied to individual workplaces. That’s why under half of Trusts were on strike.

• BMA doctors first went on strike on the 13th March. Their mandate expires around September.

• This creates a window for a coordinated action with nurses… assuming the RCN secure a new mandate to strike… not a given… around July/August.

• The RCN Council have not voted on ‘coordination’. Appearing on Kuenssberg on Sunday, the RCN General Secretary dodged the question; ‘I have no plans…’, malarkey and made no mention of the latest letter.

• She knows she could not prevent the BMA striking on the same days. It is highly likely the BMA will.

• This would trigger COBRA and probably mean some A&Es would close, allowing staff resource to be concentrated. Much like during Covid.

• NHS consultants will be balloted for industrial action in May. They, too, want pay restoration and changes to the pay review body system. It’s not impossible they’d coordinate strikes with junior doctors.

• In the meantime, all told, around 500,000, maybe more, patients will have lost their place on the waiting lists. Excess deaths will increase and the NHS will take years to recover. Some people will die waiting.

• The unions say; it’s OK because people are waiting and dying anyway. A few more won’t matter. This is balderdash.

• Most union activists are young and healthy and don’t have the fear that is part of getting older or getting sick.

So, now what?

Labour? Useless. Silly-Boy Streeting was at his vacuous best on Kuenssberg’s show. Charmer would rather stick needles in his eyes than be seen on a picket line.

Bully-Boy couldn’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag, with a map and a torch. Anyway, he’s only Hunt’s messenger.

The real decision maker is the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt. There are reports the Cabinet is split over pay increases.

Hun’t says more pay for the NHS is inflationary. He is wrong.

Public sector pay is unrelated to inflation and anyway the public sector labour force is only 17% of the total and…

… about 30% of their wages is likely to be recycled in taxes and national insurance contributions.

Most spending is subject to VAT and likely to help boost a flat-lining economy.

Hunt, as a former health secretary, is a catastrophic disappointment. Either he’s abandoned his safe working principles or all along he’s been a shyster.

He is astonishingly ill judged and frankly… since becoming Chancellor, up himself.

Finally, three things…

  1. No union has the right to put my life at risk.
  2. No clinician can morally justify walking away from people who need them, ‘because they belong to a union’.
  3. No government minister can defend neglecting public services for twelve years, plunging us all jeopardy.

Frankly, a curse on all your houses.

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