Whilst I am extremely disappointed that the Government has not recognised the strength of feeling of our members who participated in the Action Short of Strike Action (ASOS) last month, it has not surprised me. Our members and most other NHS staff continue to feel undervalued and overlooked and as a consequence we will join with 11 out of the 14 NHS unions to take ASOS between 25-29 November 2014. Details remain on our website setting out what the ASOS means in practical terms.
With all that is going on in terms of consultant contract negotiations, seven day services and the five year plan from NHS England, it is easy to forget what this action is about. The principal of honouring the recommendations of the independent Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body, and the other NHS pay review bodies has always been a principal we and the other unions have held in high regard. Ignoring them, and then standing them down for 2015/16, was just a step to far.
That's why on the 14th October we saw NHS workers take strike action for the first time in over 30 years on the issue of pay. Of course, this is a dispute with Government and not patients and to ensure this remained paramount all unions worked closely with employers to limit and minimise the effects on patient care. This was indeed the case.
Another notable difference with the recent action was the overwhelming support there was from the public, who clearly got the message that NHS staff should be treated fairly and with respect. The public’s support for all NHS staff was heart-warming and we have always recognised that the public speak up for the NHS and its staff. In addition the press in the main reported the action in a fair way - no lefty militant rubbish, just hard working doctors, midwives and nurses wanting to be heard.
However, the one thing that is puzzling is why the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt has not sought to meet with the NHS trade unions to try and sort this matter out. We ALL remain ready and willing to meet him whenever he wants and we do hope that such a meeting can take place.
So, we embark on an historic second bout of action with the simple message to Government and employers, honour the pay review body recommendations and sit down with us to negotiate.
Together we are strong - Together we can succeed