NHS strikes: Conservatives haven't met with striking consultants for over five months
Government ministers have not sat down with striking NHS consultants in more than five months, according to the Labour Party.
As NHS strikes from consultants recommence today (24 August), shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has accused the Tories of having "given up" on reaching a resolution with health care workers represented by the British Medical Association (BMA).
Two days of strikes last month led to 68,000 patients seeing their appointments and operations cancelled - and another round of strikes is planned for September.
But while the Labour Party insists the government must take action, Health Secretary Steve Barclay is standing by the six per cent pay increase that was put forward in June.
Streeting said: "The Conservatives have given up any attempt to solve strikes in the NHS. Rishi Sunak refuses to speak to doctors, and instead shamelessly uses them as an excuse for his failure to cut waiting lists.
"Patients don’t want excuses, they want action. If the Conservatives have given up on governing, they should step aside and let Labour clean up their mess.
"There were no national NHS strikes when Labour was last in office. We need a government that will treat NHS staff with respect, open its door for talks, and bring these strikes to an end.”
According to health minister Will Quince, the last meeting with consultants was on 27 March. Junior doctors have not been met since 12 May and the Society of Radiographers was last spoken to on 4 July.
The Department of Health and Social Care maintains that it will ensure resources are prioritised to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma services during industrial action.
"I am concerned and disappointed that the BMA has gone ahead with this industrial action which will continue to affect patients and hamper efforts to cut NHS waiting lists," the Health Secretary said.
"I’m aware some consultants cut short their annual leave over the most recent periods of industrial action by the BMA Junior Doctors Committee and I am incredibly grateful to those staff who came forward to help protect patients and services.
"We have accepted the independent pay review body recommendations in full, giving consultants a six per cent pay rise which means average NHS earnings for consultants of £134,000, on top of a pension where generous tax changes mean a consultant can retire at age 65 with a pension each year for life of £78,000 a year. This pay award is final and I urge the BMA to call an end to strikes."