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Editor of conservative Spectator magazine praises Mark Drakeford for ‘leadership’ on refusing nurses’ pay demands

23 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Fraser Nelson picture by Policy Exchange (CC BY 2.0). First minister of Wales Mark Drakeford picture by Peter Byrne / PA

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has received backing from a rather unexpected direction, with an avowedly conservative columnist praising him for setting out the case against giving nurses the money they are asking for.

Writing in the Telegraph, Fraser Nelson, the editor of the right-wing magazine The Spectator, lambasted the Conservative UK Government for not making the case against hiking NHS pay.

But Fraser Nelson said that the one person who had effectively set out the case against a pay rise was Mark Drakeford.

“The leadership on pay talks is coming from Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales,” Fraser Nelson said.

“Giving nurses more pay, he said yesterday, means ‘fewer treatments, fewer nurses, less money for the health service’. If a Labour leader can talk candidly about trade-offs, why can’t the Conservatives?”

Nurses across Wales – as well as in England and Northern Ireland – have been on strike over pay and conditions on Tuesday and Thursday of last week.

In an interview with BBC Wales on Sunday, the First Minister told the programme that his government’s hands were tied because he can’t “grow the envelope” of money afforded to him in Westminster

He said that the sum of money the Welsh Government received for public services and pay was “a consequence of the decisions” made for England by ministers there.

“We do not have the money to be able to increase our pay offer, while the UK Government refuses to put more money into the pay bill in England,” he said.

Mr Drakeford noted how the Welsh Government could have taken funds available to run to health service to “pay nurses that money instead”.

“That would have meant fewer treatments, fewer nurses, less money for the health service itself. Now, you could say we should have done that. We chose not to. We’re accountable for that decision,” he added.

‘Impact’

The Royal College of Nursing has said that the Welsh Government must find a way to resolve the strike action without any further additional financial help from the UK Government.

Helen Whyley, Royal College of Nursing Wales director, said that “NHS Wales pay is a Welsh Government decision. Health care services are devolved.”

She added: “The First Minister has said in the past he believes in devolution because it allows Welsh solutions to Welsh problems. This is Mark Drakeford government’s opportunity to do just that.

“I am calling on the Welsh Government to make a genuine commitment to improving the current pay award and to meet with the Royal College of Nursing to resolve this dispute. The Welsh Government must find a way forward with or without additional funding from the UK Government.

“Nursing staff have endured years of real term pay cuts which has led to frightening levels of understaffing. This has a significant impact on patient care and why this dispute is about pay and safe nurse staffing levels.

“The nursing workforce is fundamental to the provision of NHS services to the people of Wales. Hospitals, beds, and equipment are nothing without qualified and skilled staff to care for patients.

“As we approach the end of 2022 and a New Year it is bitterly disappointing that the Royal College of Nursing is being forced to consider announcing further strike dates.

“I urge the First Minister to respond to positively to my letter inviting talks.”


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 month ago

We’re accountable for that decision,”

Sentences that have never been uttered by a Tory.

Val Owen
Val Owen
1 month ago

Unfortunately we are getting fewer treatments and fewer nurses anyway as a result of the strikes and nurses leaving the profession.
Money is disappearing into nursing agency fees.
Money for a proper pay settlement stops this roundabout.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Says it all when a right-wing hack praises a decision made by our so-called First Minister. And yes Mark Drakeford can claim all he likes that his hands are tied because Westminster controls our block funding and the pot is on empty, but sorry Mark this is the political system you champion being a subservient British Unionist. And how democratic that a once proud independent country is now dependent on whether an English government in London decides whether to increase pay to there public sector workers meaning money is then released to Wales in block consequential. Effectively we are held… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

The Labour leadership has shown its true colours. Now, the people of Wales need to show its support for a fair deal for the nurses and all our public services before they all disappear. Get rid of the Tories whatever flavour Blue or Red and vote for the party that will give us our freedom and independence. Whatever your economic politics we need good public services paid from taxation which is fair on our citizens. When we are an independent nation we can have our own Social democrat, ALDE, Green, Free Alliance or people’s parties not controlled from London. Our… Read more »

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago

Mark Drakeford often talks up the Union as an insurance policy. Nurses pay is a great example of the small writing in the terms and conditions where this policy does not pay out. Too many examples of the Union insurance policy are seen to be written for England and not Wales. Remember the second lockdown and furlow payments were not applicable for Wales?

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
1 month ago

Any pay increase must be evaluated in terms of its real benefit for the individual
Every penny is subject to income tax and vat

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

More garbled posturing from a Tory organ. Drakeford ought to be ashamed that he draws compliments from the Spectator no matter how far its tongue is in its cheek when such drivel is written. The matter of poor levels of service within NHS is a matter for NHS management to resolve and is not totally wrapped up in the complexities of a pay claim. The service was failing 3 years ago, Covid came along as a distraction and we are now miles further behind. Much of this is to do with an utter inability to understand priorities and a failure… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

That must have stung, at least I hope it did…

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
1 month ago

The Spectator is, with the Economist, one of the foremost Neo Con war hawk mags.
Praise from those quarters means one is a weasel, first class.

Paul Hoskins
Paul Hoskins
1 month ago

It really underlines where Labour now exists on the polical spectrum when part of Drakeford’s fanbase turns out to be a Tory magazine!

Crwtyddol
Crwtyddol
1 month ago

Scotland pays their nurses £2K more each year than Wales. How? Wales with 57% of the population of Scotland gets 44% of their funding. Reason? Westminster is sh#t scared of the SNP

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
1 month ago

Bit of a backhanded compliment!

Kenneth Vivian
Kenneth Vivian
1 month ago

Ambition to be Lord Drakeford is being underlined daily as retirement draws near.

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