Top Stories: NHS Strikes "Deadlock", Tory MPs Attack Truss Comeback
Thousands of nurses and ambulance workers are going on strike again (Alamy)
7 min read
The largest-ever NHS strikes are taking place on Monday in a continued "deadlock" over pay, with nurses and ambulance workers across multiple regions in England walking out.
It will be the first time that both NHS nurses and ambulance staff have been on strike simultaneously.
Nurses will continue their strike on Tuesday, while ambulance crews and call staff will walk out again on Friday after working for the rest of the week.
Industrial action by NHS workers in Wales and Scotland has been called off after the government offered higher pay.
However, the head of the biggest nursing union has insisted nurses’ pay in England must be addressed for this financial year before strikes are suspended.
General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing Pat Cullen told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I have always said that where negotiations happen, we would cancel strikes to allow for our members to be consulted on any offer that we put to them.
“That's what happened in Wales. That's what's been going on in Scotland. But unfortunately, we can't get to that position.”
Cullen insisted that a pay offer must be made for the 2022-23 pay year before discussing the following year.
“We need to resolve this year because the hundreds of thousands of nurses that voted for strike action are asking for their pay to be amended in 2023,” she said.
Chief nurses from 10 leading hospitals wrote in a statement in the Guardian that the deadlock over NHS pay is endangering the lives of patients.
“Industrial action means appointments cancelled, diagnostics delayed [and] operations postponed,” the group wrote.
“The longer industrial action lasts, the greater the potential for positions to harden, waits for patients to grow, and risks of harm to accumulate.”
Speaking to Radio 4, health minister Maria Caulfield defended the government’s position and said the risk of worsening inflation was one of the main reasons for not offering nurses an enhanced pay rise.
“We've got to manage the purse strings and for every one per cent increase in pay in the public sector, that's around £700m,” she said.
“We have to find that from somewhere and we're busy trying to get the backlogs dealt with."
She called on health unions in England to do the same as Wales and Scotland nurses and call off those strikes.
“Taxes are at a high level and people are struggling with that,” she said.
“The best way of getting more money into people's pay purses is to get inflation down and we are on track to do that. I don't want to lose that opportunity by having to borrow more money to pay for pay rises.”
Tory MPs warn Liz Truss could harm election prospects
Some Conservative MPs think Liz Truss’s political comeback could spell electoral disaster for their party at the next general election.
In a 4000-word essay for the Telegraph, the former prime minister wrote that she had been brought down by a "powerful economic establishment" and had not been given a realistic chance" of delivering her radical tax policies.
Conservative MP Richard Graham told Times Radio that Truss’s article was a “mistake” because it reminded voters of Tory incompetence.
“I think, for most people in the country, that was a period that they would rather not really remember too clearly. Let’s get on with sorting out the problems in people’s day-to-day lives,” he said.
An MP who supported Sunak’s leadership campaign said they thought it was “fantasy world, delusional politics and economics to suggest that her agenda is in any way credible”.
They described the article as a “weak attempt to rewrite history”.
A former minister told the Daily Mail that the piece was “an incredibly delusional essay” and added: “Most people in the party will probably want to forget her very short period in office”.
Truss ally and MP Simon Clarke, along with other Conservative MPs, is setting up the Conservative Growth Group to promote the case for tax cuts and deregulation that Truss tried to pursue in her short-lived premiership.
She is also expected to appear at a conference in Japan this week as part of an international campaign to put pressure on China over its human rights record.
Dominic Raab accused of "unacceptable" behaviour against another cabinet minister
The prime minister was aware of “unacceptable” behaviour carried out by deputy prime minister Dominic Raab towards another cabinet minister last year, according to The Times.
Raab allegedly told Robert Buckland, who was Welsh secretary at the time, that he would lose his cabinet position unless he agreed to not publish an article criticising Raab’s Bill of Rights reform.
In an interview with LBC on Monday morning, Buckland did not deny this conversation happened.
“I don’t want to rake back through the coals of what happened last summer,” he said.
“There are robust disagreements in politics. I’m old enough and ugly enough to hold my own corner, and Dominic is known for his robustness as well. There was a disagreement, but we’ve moved on.”
Raab is currently under investigation for multiple allegations of bullying against staff, with 27 officials represented by a single joint complaint against him.
The prime minister is under increasing pressure from opposition MPs to suspend his deputy.
MPs’ staff experience distress levels similar to frontline NHS workers
The Guardian reported that staff working for MPs experience a “toxic” workload and worrying levels of psychological distress.
A survey of 315 parliamentary staff has found the distress facing them is comparable to that of frontline NHS workers.
Forty two per cent were found to be experiencing the clinical definition of psychological distress, a statistic that is three times higher than the general population.
The parliamentary Wellness Working Group (WWG), commissioned the report.
Executive member of the group Thomas Fairweather said: “Parliament has shown that it is trying to do more but there is still quite a contingent of staff on the cusp of burnout, if not into burnout, with nowhere to go.”
Rishi Sunak faces backlash from MPs over ECHR membership
Rishi Sunak is facing a fresh wave of complaints from his MPs, this time on the issue of the UK’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The Sunday Times reported that Sunak would be prepared to withdraw the UK from the ECHR, but Whatsapp messages leaked to POLITICO’s London Playbook show Tory MPs criticising the idea.
Conservative MP Jackie Doyle-Price told colleagues in the group that the government should stop “willy waving” and that if it wants to pick a fight with the ECHR, “it can do it without me.”
“Upholding the law should never be a matter for debate for a Conservative,” she added.
“Our Home Office is crap. If the government wants to have a phone[y] war over the ECHR instead of sorting itself out it can do it without me.”
David Simmonds, Alicia Kearns, Anna Firth and Bob Neill are among other MPs who oppose the UK leaving the ECHR.
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