Ambulance strikes: Sunak must intervene now

Unite GS Sharon Graham says health secretary Stephen Barclay clearly ‘past his sell by date’

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Writing in the Daily Telegraph today health secretary Stephen Barclay said, “We now know that the NHS contingency plans will not cover 999 calls. ambulance unions have taken a conscious choice to inflict harm on patients”.

In response, Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said, “To say that ambulance unions have taken a conscious choice to inflict harm on patients is a blatant lie. The unions have negotiated critical cover, including 999 calls, at a local level with hosts of NHS trusts. That is how it is done.

“Stephen Barclay obviously doesn’t understand how these issues are dealt with in the NHS. That is an embarrassment for him and the government. He has now lost all credibility. Clearly he isn’t the man for the job. He’s well past his sell by date.”

Unite believes that both prime minister Sunak and health secretary Barclay are guilty of an astonishing abdication of responsibility as they refuse to negotiate a new deal, using the Pay Review Board as a smokescreen for doing nothing.

Sharon Graham added, “Where is Rishi Sunak? He is, as usual, absent without leave. It is time we got some adults in the room. The prime minister should step up to the plate and meet the unions to negotiate a new deal. We’ll meet him on Christmas Day if needs be. In all my 25 years negotiating deals I have never seen such an abdication of leadership as that of the current posted-missing PM and the out of touch hapless health secretary.”

By Barckley Sumner