With the news that nurses who are members of the RCN have rejected the Scottish Government’s improved pay offer, it’s worth reflecting on this from the BBC News website’s Wales section a few days ago: ‘Nurses’ pay: More strikes promised as Drakeford defends offer’.
At the end of my post, the reaction of Labour to the latest RCN news in Scotland is compared and contrasted. But first to Wales.: in the BBC article we learn a lot about the Welsh Government’s current response to the industrial disputes across the NHS. Of course that is the Labour Party in government having to respond within its range of devolved powers. Here are extracts, with my emphasis:
‘WELSH MINISTERS DECIDED AGAINST A BETTER PAY OFFER FOR NURSES to help protect NHS spending, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said. He said his government could have raised taxes or redirected money from its own budget to increase nurses’ pay.
But he argued that would have “meant fewer treatments, fewer nurses, less money for the health service”.
‘THE WELSH GOVERNMENT HAS OFFERED NHS STAFF A PAY RISE OF BETWEEN 4% AND 5.5%, but nurses are seeking a 19% increase.’
BBC Wales helpfully provides readers with important context before expanding on the Welsh FM’s position: ‘THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE WELSH GOVERNMENT’S BUDGET COMES FROM THE UK TREASURY, WITH SPENDING DECISIONS IN AREAS LIKE THE NHS AND EDUCATION IN ENGLAND DIRECTLY AFFECTING THE AMOUNT OF MONEY TRANSFERRED TO WALES.
‘Mr Drakeford said: “It is simply the truth that the amount of money we get for public services and pay in Wales is A CONSEQUENCE OF THE DECISIONS THAT ENGLISH MINISTERS MAKE FOR ENGLAND.”
“That is just the way the system is,” he told BBC Politics Wales. Mr Drakeford was asked if his government was abdicating responsibility for public sector pay in Wales by ARGUING IT COULD NOT MAKE A BETTER OFFER WITHOUT EXTRA CASH FROM WESTMINSTER. “I think we can only be accountable for the decisions that genuinely lie in our hands and we should be held accountable,” he said.
“We could’ve taken the £120m out of the money available to run the health service and to pay nurses that money instead. THAT WOULD’VE MEANT FEWER TREATMENTS, FEWER NURSES, LESS MONEY FOR THE HEALTH SERVICE ITSELF. Now, you could say we should’ve done that. We chose not to, we’re accountable for that decision. We could’ve raised taxes – we chose not to do so,” he added.’
The article then gives an insight into the (misguided IMHO) attitude of the RCN in Wales: ‘Union boss Helen Whyley, from the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said A WALES-ONLY SOLUTION WAS NEEDED RATHER THAN BLAMING UK GOVERNMENT FUNDING. “This is a Welsh problem,” she told BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement. “I’m talking about Welsh nurses in Welsh hospitals, in Welsh communities. We need to find a Wales solution to this to move forward.”
The Scotland section of the BBC News website has just published a article on rejection of the Scottish Government’s pay offer by the RCN: ‘Nurses in Scotland to strike after rejecting pay deal from NHS’. It includes quotes of unsurprising but still breathtaking hypocrisy from opposition politicians!
Firstly, from the party whose government in Westminster steadfastly refuses to engage in NHS pay negotiations: ‘Scottish Conservative health spokesperson, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, called on Mr Yousaf to “immediately get back round the table” with the RCN to prevent strike action going ahead.’
But if you think that’s bad, recall what is reported above about the Labour government in Wales and then ‘reflect’ on this:
‘… Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said THE HEALTH SECRETARY SHOULD STEP DOWN. She said: “Under the SNP, Scotland’s heroic nursing staff have been pushed to breaking point. We are already in the midst of a full-blown winter crisis, with lives being risked on a daily basis. It’s time that Humza Yousaf does THE RIGHT THING AND RESIGNS.”
We know well from decades of evidence what to expect from Tories. But, candidly, there are now some leading politicians in the Labour Party in Scotland that can no longer disappoint: they just continue to be repellent due to their base political values and tactics.