'This Government would be mistaken to pick a fight with nurses'

5 March 2021, 15:15 | Updated: 5 March 2021, 15:17

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

'This Government would be mistaken to pick a fight with nurses,' Nurses United organiser tells LBC ahead of possible strike action over the 1% proposed NHS pay rise in England.

A Government recommendation to increase pay for nurses and other healthcare staff by 1% has been branded "disgusting".

Nurse Anthony Johnson spoke to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty after the Unite union, which represents tens of thousands of health service staff, has warned of industrial action amid growing anger at the proposals, while the Royal College of Nursing announced it will set up a £35 million industrial action fund in response.

Mr Johnson said the fact NHS pay had been cut while wages were higher in other countries it was akin to "training nurses for export."

He told LBC patient safety was being put at risk as "we're creating conditions to drive nurses out of the NHS."

Read more: 'It's what we can afford': Nadine Dorries defends 1% pay raise for NHS staff

Addressing the possibility of industrial action, Mr Johnson warned "this Government would be mistaken to pick a fight with nurses."

"We know how much the public support us."

Watch: Nick Ferrari asks if NHS staff deserve 'disgraceful' 1% pay rise 'after saving PM's life'

Read more: NHS salaries provide 'a really poor way of life,' nurse tells James O'Brien

Earlier, Health Minister Nadine Dorries told LBC that healthcare workers would be the only public sector workers to receive a pay rise while others would have their salaries frozen, and that a further increase would mean the furlough scheme would become unaffordable.

"Our priority has to be about saving people's jobs and people's livelihoods, she told Nick Ferrari, "and that is where our prioritisation in terms of funding has to be."