Downing Street ‘considers nurses lump sum’ to end strikes after idea was previously rejected

Downing Street is believed to be considering a one-time payment to nurses after the idea was scrapped ahead of Christmas.

About six weeks ago, Steve Barclay, the health secretary, came up with the idea of ​​giving nurses a one-off payment to cover increased living costs this financial year ending in April – but Downing Street and the Treasury have rejected it, Sky News understands.

It is understood that Number 10 is now being warmed up to the idea as nurses prepare for strike action on January 18 and 19 after leaving for the first time before Christmas.

Unions say ‘insult’ meeting will last ‘only 45 minutes’ – live policy updates

Rishi Sunak on Monday he declined to confirm or deny whether the government was considering a one-time payment, but said “talks” were the most important.

The Royal College of Nursing has said it will accept a pay rise of around 10 per cent.

The union said it would call off strike action if the government discussed wages for this financial year, but ministers said everything was settled a long time ago and only wanted to talk about next year’s wages.

RCN England director Patricia Marquis told Sky News: “Of course we’ll be interested to hear what Steve Barclay has to say.

“But if we are unable to talk about this year’s wage award, it will unfortunately not resolve the dispute we currently have with the government.”

Read more: Who’s on strike and when this month?

Union bosses meet with Mr Barclay today to discuss pay and conditions in a major watershed for workers after the government initially said it was up to independent pay regulators to negotiate wages, not ministers.

The government is also meeting with railway and teacher union leaders ahead of further strikes by these industries.

Mr Sunak said the government’s door “is always open” for trade unions to talk about wages as long as they are “based on what is affordable, what is responsible and what is reasonable”.

No deal is expected for either union today, but the fact that they are coming together is an important step forward.

Junior doctors – any doctor below consultant level – have voting started today on whether to hold a “full strike” in March, the result of which is expected by the end of February.

Some 45,000 members of the British Medical Association (BMA) are taking part in a vote demanding better pay, who have been excluded from the NHS pay increase this year as their contract falls under a multi-pay contract agreed in 2019 and ending in March. gave them a 2% raise for 2022/2023.

The BMA said junior doctors in England had seen their pay cut in real terms over the last 15 years, a 26.1% drop in pay since 2008/9.

The union confirmed it was not invited to today’s pay talks with ministers, who it says have recommended to them again for a 2% wage increase next year.

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