Speaking for the first time since his return to the role, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay addressed a range of topics at NHS Providers’ annual conference in Liverpool.
But included in his speech was a brief note about pay, presumably in light of the recent industrial action voted for by members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) – the first in its over century-long history.
Barclay acknowledged the importance of pay “in all sectors”, particularly with the wider cost-of-living crisis, before mentioning his recent meetings with RCN officials and various other trade unions where they discussed “patient safety, non-pay benefits, and of course pay itself.”
Barclay then said: “But I do not think it is realistic that increases should be three times the amount paid to those outside the public sector. And the £9bn cost this would entail would impact other important areas of spend, such as buildings and technology, which are also important to staff.”
During his speech, the health secretary maintained how “grateful” he was for the discussions that have taken place over the last couple of weeks, as well as reaffirming his intention to “engage constructively” with colleagues about the issue of pay.
Ultimately, the Cambridgeshire MP finished his remarks about pay saying: “I can assure you all that this is an issue that I am determined to take forward.”
Industrial action over pay was announced earlier this month, with some strikes expect to begin before the new year.