Political news - current: 80,000 consultations and 11,000 surgeries canceled on biggest NHS strike day (2023)

Important points
  • Who is on strike today as the NHS faces major disruptions?
  • Patients face 'extremely disturbed' day as NHS leaders fear people will not show up for treatment
  • British nurses are punished and abandoned by Rishi Sunak - union leaders
  • The Ministry of Health downplays the strikes: 80,000 consultations and 11,000 surgeries have been canceled
  • Who will take industrial action in 2023 and when?
  • live report ofbaker team


'Progress is being made' on Northern Ireland Protocol deal but difficulties remain, says EU chief negotiator

Progress is being made to negotiate a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol, but difficulties remain, the EU's chief negotiator said.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said Brussels "will spare no effort" to reach an agreement with Britain over controversial post-Brexit trade deals.

When Mr Sefcovic made his remarks in Brussels, the UK made it clear that "considerable work" is still needed before a deal can be reached.

The updates from both sides came amid intensifying speculation about a forthcoming deal to cut red tape in the movement of goods between the UK and Northern Ireland.

Sefcovic told a news conference in Brussels that "intensive outreach" to find common solutions would continue.

“The Commission and the UK Government are working closely and constructively together. Progress is being made, but difficulties remain,” she said.

“President (Ursula) von der Leyen has a trusting relationship with British Prime Minister (Rishi) Sunak.

"The same applies to my relationship with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.

“We agree that common solutions are needed to address the real concerns of all communities in Northern Ireland.

"So overall, this is not an easy exercise, but it is certainly necessary, and the Commission will spare no effort to agree a common approach."


UK to send "immediate support" to Turkey after earthquake

The UK has announced that it is sending aid to Turkey after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the southeast of the country and northern Syria, killing more than 2,200 people.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: "Britain is sending immediate support to Turkiye (Turkey), including a team of 76 search and rescue specialists, equipment and rescue dogs.

“In Syria, the UK-funded White Helmets have mobilized their resources to respond.

"We stand ready to provide further support if needed."

For more earthquake updates, you can follow our dedicated live blog at the link below...


The government will be asked about the NHS strikes in the House of Commons this afternoon

Labor received an urgent question in the House of Commons today.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting will ask the government around 3:30 p.m. m. a statement on the NHS strikes.

The Secretary of Health, Will Quince, will answer for the government.

After that, between 45 minutes and an hour later, Shadow Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband will ask about "Ofgem's decision to suspend the forced installation of prepaid meters".

Energy Secretary Graham Stuart will answer this question for the government.

There will be a House of Lords question from Lord Foulkes of the Labor Party on earthquake relief in Turkey.

It is scheduled to take place at 3:15 p.m.


The last of the picket line

NHS workers are on strike across the country.

Here is the scene outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton:

And this is the scene at the North Bristol Operations Center:


A cabinet member welcomes Truss's comments on the economy... while Downing Street is less convinced

Liz Truss's essay in The Sunday Telegraph provoked mixed reactions from heads of government.

Britain's shortest-serving prime minister described how her plan for economic growth, which focused on tax cuts, had "no realistic chance."

Ultimately, this resulted in rising inflation, rising indebtedness, a falling pound, and collapsing pension funds.

When asked about Truss' intervention today, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said it was "right to focus on growth".

He added: "I look forward to hearing from Liz, she brings a wealth of experience as a former Cabinet Minister, she was one of the longest-serving Cabinet Ministers and I think it's good to hear from colleagues, including former Prime Ministers."

Lady. Truss also attacked "the system" and "resistance to my program" in his letter.

Speaking to reporters this morning, the prime minister's official spokesman said Sunak appreciated the scrutiny of independent bodies such as the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which dismissed Truss as part of the "left economic system".

The spokesperson added that the chancellor was working with the OBR on the next budget.

But they said that Sunak "will listen to all the former prime ministers."

Ms.'s Decision The fact that Truss did not receive guidance from the OBR in advance of her mini-budget was a key factor in the markets' loss of confidence in her government.


'Most of the funds' go unnoticed, says health secretary, as nurses and ambulance workers come out in biggest NHS action ever

Health Secretary Steve Barclay tried to downplay the scale of today's NHS strikes.

He was speaking during a visit to Kingston Hospital in southwest London.

Both ambulance workers and nurses are taking action today and tens of thousands of healthcare workers must go.

Barclay said: "The majority of funds are not on strike, so let's first put this in context that this is a minority of funds where strike action is being taken.

“Secondly, the [Royal College of Nursing] acted responsibly with respect to the applicable exemptions.

"There was some concern about ambulance unions not covering everything that's known as category two, like heart attacks, strokes."

Asked how damaging the strikes would be to patient care, he added: "We've seen the impact of today's strikes in terms of patient appointments and procedures, around 80,000 canceled appointments and 11,000 inpatient surgeries, for so there is an impact on patients".

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham today accused business secretary Grant Shapps of "lying" when he said ambulance workers had failed to provide life and limb cover in previous strikes.


The government does not believe it is right to "look back" in the wage dispute with the unions.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman addressed reporters at this morning's press conference.

They were asked about today's strikes, the biggest the NHS has ever seen.

One of the main points of contention is that NHS workers want a pay rise at least this month or until last April.

The government says it wants to focus on the next round of salaries for the next fiscal year.

"Our long-standing position is that wage increases above inflation are unacceptable, given the impact on taxpayers and the risk of increasing inflationary pressures," the spokesperson said.

“But we want to find a way forward. We believe the right way forward is to discuss this year's salary offer before the evidence is presented to the Salary Verification Board."

Asked if unions should "give up" on negotiating last year's collective agreement, the spokesperson said: "I think we would say we want to continue talking about other avenues.

"We think it's right to focus on this year's pay and not look back. As the Minister said this morning, our door remains open."


Striking ambulance workers would like to see Sunak riding, 'but he's in his nice warm house'

Unite member Kate Coates is on the picket line in Birmingham.

He works with the Patient Transport Service (PTS) of the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Ms Coates says many of her colleagues leave work due to working conditions, which include "long hours, no breaks".

"Because you sit in front of a hospital for six hours, with the patient on board, without a break," he said.

Asked if he would like Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to travel for a shift, Coates said: "That would be nice.

"I'm sure you're sitting in your nice warm house and you don't have to worry about heating bills and rising cost of living.

"Yes, it would be nice to see the Prime Minister come and join us.

"But I doubt that will happen."


Government 'still out' of strikes - Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer is keeping the pressure on the government over the ongoing strikes.

The labor line is that the government must negotiate while Rishi Sunak and his cronies say that a new wage offer is prohibitive.

The opposition did not say what it would offer the unions, but told Sky News yesterday that a double-digit pay increase was unlikely.

From an Airbus near Bristol, Sir Keir said: "Today's widespread strikes are an embarrassment to the government.

“No one wants to see these strikes, no one wants to go on strike, the last thing nurses want is to go on strike.

“What they want is a government that shows leadership, sits down at the negotiating table and resolves this dispute.

“Before Christmas, the nurses made it clear that if the government came into the room and talked to them about pay, they would not go on strike.

“I think many people hearing this will be absolutely stunned that the government is still on the sidelines, showing no leadership in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and making the situation so much worse than it otherwise would have been.”


A foreign NHS employee explains why the employees are not in the UK

Yoga Sundaram, 28, is a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and moved to the UK from India almost two years ago.

He worked there for five years as a nurse and midwife and is now a clinical instructor.

Sundaram says that many doctors and nurses who arrive in the UK leave the country soon after due to lack of pay.

"It's not an easy job and it's not easy as a national player," he says.

“It is a dream for us to come to the UK and work in a good company and community where we can continue to develop our careers.

“But last year, my colleagues came very quickly.

“New graduates from India come to the UK but when they get here they start moving to other countries to find out the salary level and there is nothing they can do.

“Since I got the title of Clinical Instructor, I have been helping the crew on board and seeing people for about six months to see how they are feeling.

“We are trying to help them, but this is in the hands of the government.”

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