THE WELSH Government has put a new offer to unions representing members of the Welsh NHS which includes a “one off payment” in a bid to end strike action.

Last month, nurses from the Royal College of Nursing and ambulance staff from the GMB took industrial action over pay, conditions, and concerns over patient safety. Unite members are due to go on strike on January 19 and 23.  

In 2022 health workers in Wales were offered a £1,400 pay award although this is a real-terms pay cut for the majority of staff.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed the Welsh Government has offered to sit down with the unions this coming week to negotiate an end to the strikes.

“We put a package of measures together which we think can form the basis of a negotiation,” he said.

"It includes an offer of a one off payment in the current financial year. What we cannot do – just simply haven't got the money to do – is to raise this year’s offer in a way that gets consolidated in people's pay packets and goes on having to be paid for future years."

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Unison said this week's meeting follows a letter from the Welsh Government to all health unions in Wales suggesting the possibility of "potential solutions" to issues surrounding agency staff and restoring "some level of confidence" in the pay review body that sets the pay award for health workers.

Mr Drakeford continued: “A lot of work has gone on over the Christmas period. Cabinet has been meeting over Christmas, looking at ways in which in this final quarter of the current financial year we could reorder the spending that we had planned to free up money that would allow us to make a one off payment to people who work in our health service, alongside other measures that our letter sets out.

“That’s a basis for negotiation I hope and we invite trade union colleagues to come in and be round the table with us next week.”

Dawn Ward, chair of the UNISON Cymru/Wales health committee, said: “Health workers in Wales are at breaking point with unprecedented demand on the NHS combined with a pay packet that does not come close to coping with the sky-rocketing cost-of-living crisis.

“We need an immediate solution from Welsh Government to tackle the ever-worsening issues of pay and conditions for the many thousands of health workers UNISON represents across Wales.”

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Hugh McDyer, head of health for UNISON Cymru/Wales, added: “UNISON is the largest health union in Wales, and we welcome the re-opening of talks with Welsh government.

“However, this is unlikely to prevent industrial action in the future or halt our re-balloting of ambulance workers in Wales which began on Friday, January 6.

“Real solutions can only be reached in negotiations with the UK government in Westminster.

“The Welsh government has limited scope and we need to see the UK government having serious discussions not just about pay and conditions for health workers in the future but about the here and now.”