UNIONS AGREE WELSH NHS PAY DEAL! – Monday’s Welsh strike action cancelled

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HEALTH unions have agreed a separate deal on pay for NHS workers in Wales, meaning they will not be taking part in Monday’s four-hour strikes.

In England, the strike will run from 7.00am to 11.00am and in Northern Ireland from 8.00am till 12.00 noon, however in Wales the NHS workers pay dispute is now settled.

Seeking to justify the Welsh deal, Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: ‘As ministers ponder their departmental legacies as May’s general election looms, Jeremy Hunt’s ministerial epithet will be: “I did not talk to hardworking NHS staff on pay”.

‘We understand that MPs from all parties have been urging Hunt to start talks, but, so far, he is cowering behind a Berlin Wall of intransigence.’

Unite contrasted the attitude of Hunt and his Whitehall mandarins with that of the Labour-controlled cash-strapped Welsh government which yesterday announced a pay settlement for Welsh NHS workers.

The Welsh government health and social services minister Mark Drakeford announced that NHS workers will receive a non-consolidated cash payment of £187 for this year, with one per cent pledged for the next financial year 2015/16.

The ‘living wage’ will also be introduced in the New Year.

Dawn Bowden, Unison Wales head of health, commented: ‘The settlement is an improvement on the previous offer and we welcome achieving the Living Wage for our lowest paid members.

‘Clearly this agreement does not make up for the real term loss that NHS workers have suffered in recent years, but we hope we can build on this settlement in the future.’

• Bournemouth Hospital has taken the unprecedented step of threatening patients they believe are ‘bed blocking’ with legal action to evict them from their beds.

The hospital is to give so-called ‘bed blockers’ seven days to leave.

BMA member Anna Athow commented: ‘These proposals are monstrous and dangerous and must be opposed by all health unions. It’s not patients’ fault that there are not enough beds for patients arriving in A&E.

‘Who closed all the smaller community hospitals where older people used to convalesce? Who built PFI new hospitals with 25% less beds than before?

‘If these patients were really “medically fit”, they could go back and live in their own home with social services and a district nurse. Clearly they are not “medically fit”, so they are not “bed blockers”.

‘This is the American way. It’s heading for what was shown in Michael Moore’s “Sicko” – patients slung out on the streets.’

• Private firms are to make a total of £9bn in NHS deals after the Tory coalition government has intensified the privatisation of the NHS.

NHS Support Federation, an independent campaign group has calculated that since the Health and Social Care Act came into force in April 2013, companies like Virgin Care, Bupa and Care UK have up until now won 131 contracts worth an estimates £2.6bn to provide services within the NHS.

Out of a total of 195 deals that have been agreed, these 131 contracts represent about half of the value of all the contracts, in other words these private companies are scooping up the most lucrative deals.

Researchers tracking the awarding of NHS contracts say that if the private sector continues to win 50% of the value of all contracts they would earn a potential £6.6bn contracts out of the £13bn other contracts which have been advertised but not yet awarded.

That would result in private firms earning £9.2bn in total out of the NHS.